You know, you just wouldn't think that this would be a very exciting attraction. And, it wasn't.. exciting, that is. What is was, was very interesting. We saw a lot of people come in and just start touring on their own - don't do that. You will miss the best part if you do. The tour is included in the admission fee and the knowledge and wry wit of the docents is what makes the house come alive. Our guide was Steve - he was terrific!
For starters, you get to explore a period home - a colonial southern mansion, circa 1851. It's a treat just to admire the verandahs, floor to ceiling windows, butler's pantry, first inside bathroom in Key West (added later, of course). The house is stocked with items Hemingway brought home from his travels in Africa, Europe and Cuba. But the story of the man is even more interesting and your guides know all about him - who he was with and when, why he told this story and why he wrote that story, how he found his way home from Sloppy Joe's at night, what the real truths are about the cistern and the expensive swimming pool. Pretty fascinating. And, then there's the Carriage House with Heminway's writing loft. Just wow -
As interesting as all of that is, it's the gardens that truly drew me. Wandering paths take you past traveler's palms, bougainvillea, agave, hedychium and more. It is a tropical paradise and it's filled with --- cats. Everywhere. They say there are 45-50 there now (many more in the private cat cemetary where Eva Gabor and Tyrone Power - the cats - rest) and that they are all descended from Snowball - his sons' six-toed cat. They certainly live a life of luxury today! They are on the master bed, on the display cases, on the chairs - you name it!
This is one of those 'glad I did it' but don't need to do it again locations. I completely enjoyed the guided tour and highly recommend it.
The house known today as the Hemingway House was constructed in 1851 by Asa Tift, a marine architect and salvage wrecker. Renown author Ernest Hemingway lived in this fine home from 1931 to 1939. Like the nearby Audubon House, a local sailor named Asa Tift constructed the house of limestone. The house stands at an elevation of 16 feet above sea level, the second-highest site on Key West, , and its height and solid construction have allowed it to withstand numerous hurricanes. Hemingway ensured his house was one of the first on Key West with indoor plumbing, and the first on the island to have an upstairs bathroom with running water. The house also boats the first swimming pool in Key West, built at considerable expense by Hemingway's soon to be ex-wife while we was traveling the world. Hemingway had the wall around the property constructed in 1935 to ensure his privacy.
The house boasts a colony of rare six- and seven-toed cats. After his wife built the swimming pool, Hemingway converted a worn out urinal from his favorite bar Sloppy Joe's bar into a water fountain next to the fancy pool, where it became a fountain for the cats.
In the barn behind the house Hemingway wrote the final draft to "A Farewell to Arms," and the short stories "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber."
The Hemingway House is run by a private, for-profit enterprise called Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 24, 1968. After Hemingway's death the house and all its contents were sold, and only a single chandelier in the house today can be documented as once owned by Hemingway.
Hemingway was born in Illinois in 1899, and was an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in World War I, which was the inspiration for his work, A Farewell to Arms. Throughout his life he lived in Toronto, Chicago, Paris, Key West, Cuba, Wyoming, and Idaho, and was married four times. He not only served in the First World War, bu covered the Spanish Civil War and World War II as a news correspondent. In 1952, Hemingway won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Old Man and the Sea, and in 1954, he earned a Nobel Prize.
This was one of my "must see" items on my list for Key West... Ernest Hemingway lived in this house for about 10 years in the 1930's and wrote some of his most famous novels and stories here. Our tour guide was hilarious, telling us the story of Hemingway's life, adventures, and many women. We also got to meet several of the approximately 40 polydactyl (6-toed) cats who live on the property.
I loved the story of the famous "cat fountain" (which empties into a urinal from the original Sloppy Joe's...), and loved wandering the grounds after the tour, as the gardens are gorgeous and were, on the day we went, being set up for a wedding...
If you love to tour historic homes, this is for you. I bought a combination ticket at the Mel Fisher Museum for $22, which is a deal since the tour admission for just the house is $13.00
Shortly after he left Paris, legendary American author Ernest Hemingway decided to settle in Key West, Florida. In 1931, he bought one of the island's most sumptuous villas, located at the heart of downtown Key West, where he moved with his second wife Pauline and their two sons. He stayed there until the couple got divorced in 1940 (Hemingway's second marriage was not a happy one), at which point he decided to move to Havana.
Over the past few years I've had the chance to visit quite a few Hemingway-related sites around the world, so of course the first thing I wanted to do when we got to Key West was to visit his house. As it turns out, the visit was incredibly interesting. Our guide was a great story-teller and his enthusiasm was quite contagious! Even those who aren't familiar with the author will appreciate the architecture of the house, the lovely gardens that surround it, and of course the house's numerous cats! There are about 40 cats currently living freely on the estate, most of which are polydactyl (six-toed) cats, which is how we know they are descendants of Hemingway's own beloved Snowball. Another architectural feature that's worth mentioning is the garden pool, which was built at the astounding cost of $20,000 by Pauline, who pretty much spent her husband's entire fortune - without him being aware of it - seeing the project through. Hemingway fans also won't want to miss the chance of seeing the author's private study, which features several pieces of furniture that belonged to Hemingway, including an old typewriter. Even though the years he spent in Key West were some of the least prolific of his career, Hemingway did write the novel "To Have and Have Not" while he lived there.
The Ernest Hemingway home is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $12.50.
The house where Hemingway lived for about 10 years, is one of the most popular must sees. Make sure to book a guided visit. The house is not that old, nor special, but if you have a good guide, he tells some funny anecdotes, which makes the visit very enjoyable.
Typical are the numerous cats who are living in and around the house. People can pet them, but are not allowed to pick them up cause they are protected. They sleep on the bed, in the bathroom, on the pathways… they rule the house. Several are descendants of Hemingway’s polydactyl (six toed) cat. Very cute!
Ernest Hemingway lived (and wrote) in Key West for over ten years from 1928. He called Key West home and took great please in and on the turquoise waters. Visiting his house is like taking a step back in time and visiting the rooms and gardens is a real pleasure. The house has beautiful wrap-around balcony and verandahs which offer lovely cooling breezes.
Take a walk through the gardens and the house and you will encounter some of the descendants of Hemingway's original cat; a number of these are, like the original, polydactyl (or many toed) so take the time to see if you can spot the ones with extra toes!!
The house was built in 1851 by Asa Tift, a marine architect and salvage wrecker, and became Ernest Hemingway's home in 1931. The house still contains the furniture that he and his family used. Legend has it that Hemingway owned the home from 1931 until his passing in 1961. The Spanish Colonial style home was constructed of native rock from the grounds.
The pool at the Hemingway House was the first residential swimming pool built in Key West and at 65 feet long is still the largest. There used to be a diving board at the far end, which is 9 feet deep. The pool is filled from a saltwater well in the old smokehouse, a concrete, fern covered building near the pool. The pool, built in the late 1930's, cost $20,000. This price prompted Hemingway to take a penny from his pocket and press it into the wet cement of the surrounding patio and announce jokingly, "Here, take the last penny I've got!" That penny is still there.
Although we missed the tour we walked through Hemingway's home petting cats on the way. His personal touches still abound throughout the house, many of the unique furnishing are European antiques collected during their stay on the continent. The trophy mounts and skins were souvenirs of Hemingway's African safaris and numerous hunting expeditions out west. The author's presence can still be felt in his studio where he produced some of his most well known works. A very visible and living link to the past are the descendants of Hemingway's cats. The story goes that Hemingway made the acquaintance of a sea captain who owned an unusual six-toed tomcat. Upon his departure from Key West, the captain presented the cat to Hemingway. Today 60 cats that inhabit the grounds still possess the unusual six toes.
The home of famous writer Ernest Hemingway is located here in Key West. He wrote award-winning novels such as "The Old Man and the Sea". On the tour of his home, you will encounter a lot of cats, so make sure you're comfortable being around cats. Otherwise, this is a good museum to visit, especially if you are fond of Hemingway's writings.
Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here in the years 1930 - 39. The hurricane proof house on the highest point of the island was built from coral blocks that were cut from the property.
Hemingway bought it for $8,000.
He said: "It’s the best place I’ve ever been anytime, anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms...."
It was in the living room that Hemingway worked on: Death in the Afternoon, Green Hills of Africa, To Have and To Have Not, which is about Key West during the depression, For Whom the Bell Tolls and his play The Fifth Column, in addition to many short stories.
The famous author owned the home until his death in 1961, today, his home is open for visitors and a popular spot for those visiting the city.
The house is a Registered National Historic Landmark where you can see among others an original Picasso, a lot of hunting trophies and some unusual souvenirs from his world travels.
Even if you are not a Hemingway fan, but a cat lover, the place is worth the historical tour at least for the almost 70 cats inhabited the grounds.
Ernest Miller Hemingway, Winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.
Open 9am - 5pm, daily
Admission fee: U$11.00
I'm on the fence about whether this was worth the time and money. You can get $1 off admission if you buy your ticket through the Trolley Tour booth.
If you are a fan of Hemmingway, probably worth the time and money.
If not, you might still want to go just to see all the six toed cats.
The history was interesting but the guide was a bit rude. He ordered people out of the room because he had enough people in his tour. They told him he was rude and he did not even bother to apologize or tell them when the next tour would be. I went to ask him a question and he acted like I was not even standing there. We did continue with his tour as he was very knowledgeable and said he had appeared on tv shows and would be on two coming out this summer.
Just don't go at the hottest part of the day. They have fans but no a/c.
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