Hemingway Home of Key West
Hemingway Home of Key West Is Huge Tourist Attraction For Fans
Ernest Hemingway came to the Key West area after fellow author and friend John Dos Passos recommended the infamous author “dry out his bones.” Throughout the 1930s, he lived in Florida with his wife, leaving behind a renowned legacy when he moved away in 1939.
What that in mind, it’s not all that surprising that his home was converted into a massive tourist attraction that anybody – young and old – can see. For many people, Hemingway is considered an influential 20th-century influencer, tackling various topics that range from war to bullfighting. Taking a tour of where he lived and worked is something people who adored the literary genius would jump for a chance at.
What Makes The Hemingway Museum of Key West So Unique?
The Hemingway Museum of Key West is one of the area’s most unusual houses. Located along the streets of Whitehead and Olivia streets, it was built using limestone rock in 1851 by a Connecticut merchant and shipper.
The home has arched windows with shutters, a mansard roof and veranda on the second floor made of wrought-iron. Its other balconies are also made of wrought-iron – the same ones that Hemingway himself touched.
Hemingway, along with his wife Pauline, had been looking at the house from afar. The couple lived in Cuba in the 1920s but arrived by ferry to Key West in 1931. He bought the Key West home in 1931.
After doing so, Hemingway turned the carriage house into a pool house with the above loft becoming a sundeck and studio. It’s here that guests can check out the actual workbench and shelves where literary mastermind kept his manuscripts.
What You’ll Learn When You Visit The Hemingway Museum in Key West
There is so much history in the walls of the Hemingway Museum in Key West. As a visitor, you can walk the very halls the literary icon walked. Now, much of the furnishings in the museum did not belong to the author. In fact, the furnishings provided in the home today are renditions of what the rooms and study would have looked like while he lived there.
Once visitors are done with the inside of the home, they can walk outside and through the well-kept gardens of beautiful flowers to check out the 80,000-gallon swimming pool Hemingway had built in 1937.
The 75’x 25’ pool was seen as rare for its time, as he had it built with underwater lights. He also had the six-foot wall built, replacing the cyclone fence to ensure privacy for himself as he sunbathed in the nude. (If you look closely, the workmen added peepholes into the wall.)
Upon his return from Spain, the author told the job foreman that he was done spending money on the pool. In fact, his words were, “I’ve spent my last cent on this pool.” Then, he pressed a penny into the wet cement walk to prove his point. This, along with dozens of feline paw prints, can be seen today.
Why the feline paw prints?
For Those Who Love Cats…
Hemingway loved cats! And, the Hemingway Museum of Key West is home to roughly 50 cats – all thought to be descendants of Hemingway’s fluffy white cat they called Snowball because of their distinct six toes instead of four. Interesting sidebar: According to seafaring legend, the tour guides will recount with visitors, polydactyl (meaning extra toes) cats are considered lucky. Perhaps that it is why they are often pampered more often than cats without extra toes?
Hemingway loved cats so much that his favorites were often added to his novels and short stories. When he was writing and often alone for long periods of time, their presence gave him a source of comfort. Today, you’ll find these descendant felines walking around the pool, resting outside or sleeping on furniture. They are taken well care of, sleeping or walking wherever they want in the home because it’s also their home.
The Hemingway Museum of Key West also has a cat cemetery where those felines that have passed on are then buried.
One Last Thing…
Hemingway also had a passion for fountains – one of which is a replica of the Civil War vessel – Asessippi, which was a vessel the Confederates turned into an iron-clad. He also owned a fountain that comprised of Spanish tiles and a Spanish olive jar. When you visit the Hemingway Museum of Key West, you can find these and many other fountains he collected.