Hemingway, Key West
Key West and Ernest Hemingway are inseparable. Papa Hemingway's years in town were among his most productive, from a literary standpoint, and his contribution to the attitude and nightlife of the town continues to this very day. Why, even his "cat water fountain" is an antique urinal ripped from the original Sloppy Joes' Bar location in the late thirties.
The house is privately owned, and lovingly maintained. It's so authentic as to still be devoid of air-conditioning. Now, I wouldn't describe the interior as super-comfortable on the hot June day we visited, but the construction of the house, its ceiling fans and the large ceiling to floor windows, make tropical ventilation happen.
Like almost everything in Key West, it costs $10 to get in. Guided tours, once inside, are free...you just congregate at the entrance for the next one to start. You'll be treated to a 30 minute walk through both the house and history. I was especially moved to visit Hemingway's writing cottage out back, left as he'd left it when he departed the area. Seeing Ernest Hemingway's typewriter made me appreciate my quiet-key computer keyboard and nifty laptop even more. :)
Hey, one other fun fact about Hemingway's house...it's the only dwelling in Key West with a basement. Papa was smart enough to buy the highest ground (elevation about 10 feet) in town, and he bought land that had a big chunk of stone below the surface. So, the basement was literally carved out of this stone, which is why it doesn't seep water like most places in Florida would do. Also, during hurricanes, the famous Hemingway cats instinctively hide in the basement, which is usually a safe place to be.
We loved the stories of Papa Hemingway and all his wives, too. And yes, we saw his cats, including a bunch of the famous six-toed mutants. Definitely worth the visit, folks.
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
You have to visit the former house of Ernest Hemmingway. The Hemingway House is the only house in Key West with a basement and the first house on the island to get a swimming pool (Hemingway was outraged at what the pool ended up costing). You can take a tour, which is very nice. Definitely take the guided tour, the guide will tell you great story's and offer insights and anecdotes into the Hemingway’s, the house and the town. The furnishings and his writing space are much as they were when he lived there. It's a beautiful place to spend a few hours. If you are a cat lover, than this is paradise for you, there are so many cats walking around the house, that I lost counting. They all are descendents of his original cats. Look even closer and you'll see that the rampant inbreeding has left many of them with strange deformities like "6" toes per paw and stubby tails.
The one place I absolutely knew I wanted to visit in Key West was Ernest Hemingway's home. It wasn't so much about his books that made me feel this way, but the stories that surrounded this man's life. There are some great old stories about his home as well and you'll hear it all on a guided tour (which is included in the admission price), or you can choose to walk the grounds on your own. We had a fantastic guide who brought the whole place to life for us; she knew so much about Hemingway, his home, his wife that you'd think she knew them personally!!
On the tour you will see Hemingway's large two-story home, each level had a wrap around porch, and each room is filled with art and antiques. Our guide told us interesting stories of certain pieces of furniture or art and where they came from. There is also Hemingway's separate studio where he wrote located on the second floor of a smaller building in back of the main house. You'll see fountains & pool. Hemingway was apparently quite put out when his wife had the in-ground pool put in!
I loved seeing all the descendants of Hemingway's 6-toed cats, which number around 50 - 60 cats (some with only 5 toes on each foot!) and the memorable "graveyard" built for them. Each cat has a name! The cats have their own stories, beginning with Hemmingway's first cat who apparently came from a sea captain.
Admission generally is $10 adult; $6 child when we visited. Check current prices.
Open 9am to 5pm 365 days a year. Nice gift shop on grounds.
Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here for more than ten years. They say he loved Key West because he found creativity in the turquoise waters that surround the island. Some of his famous writings include "A Farwell to Arms" and "The Old Man and the Sea". It is a tour that fans of his would appreciate, but if you never read any of his books I wouldn't bother coming here.
There are tours available, open everyday, 9am - 5pm.
Admission is $11.00 but you can find a discount coupon almost anywhere. There was no military discount which was surprising. Locals get in free. (Alot of good that does you huh?)
From this picture it looks like those guys in hats are lost in some tropical jungle. Actually we are at the Hemingway House and Museum. These are the beautiful gardens behind the house. We had a great guide who really made the Hemingway House come to life for us. This was one of my favorite sites in Key West. Hemingway lived here just as his writing career was starting. He wrote The Old Man and The Sea and To Have and Have Not while he lived here in this house. The house belonged to his second wife who was an heiress. The house is still occupied by over 60 cats that are descendants of the original cats Hemingway owned while living here.
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.
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!!
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.
I'm not sure this belongs in a Must See category, but it certainly isn't off the beaten path either.
This is another place that we didn't go back to yet (since the 60s) mostly because of the cost. Tours take 45 minutes, and they cost $10 for adults and $6 for children in 2003. If I were to go back, one of the primary attractions would be the six-toed cats (decendants of Hemingway's original cats) that live there.
In 1851, Asa Tift, a marine architect and salvage wrecker built the house. It was bought for Pauline and Ernest Hemingway by Pauline's rich uncle Gus in 1931. Pauline was Ernest's 2nd wife. When she divorced him in 1939, Hemingway moved to Cuba. Pauline died in 1951. Only Patrick, one of her two sons is still living.
The house has the first pool in Key West - it cost $20,000 in the late 30s. Hemingway also built the brick wall around the house in an effort to get some privacy from the crowds of tourists peering in through the fence. (see last picture). Hemingway still complained that the lighthouse keeper had a view into his bedroom. That is partly true - there is a picture I took from the top of the lighthouse that shows the upstairs balcony.
Hemingway had a lot of friends in Key West, and many of them appeared as characters in his novel "To Have and Have Not" which is about Key West during the depression.
This picture was done by one of his friends - Mario Sanchez. The figure in the middle that is twice the size of anyone else is Hemingway. The clouds depict three of his novels - The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea, and For Whom the Bell Tolls
The house was filled with many beautiful anitques, paintings and old photographs . I especially loved the antique headboard from the 17th century, which was once a spanish gate. The cat sleeping on the bed is one of the 44 cats that live on the property.
Ernest Hemingway is a famous American writer who lived much of his life as a recluse. Like many of those who make the Keys their reference, Hemingway sought refuge in the tiny islands where he lived for over 10 years with all of his cats. Many of Hemingway's novels are about the people he met while living on Key West.
It is said that the cats that currently live on the property are the descendants of Heminway's cats. Legend has it that Hemingway was presented with a gift of a 6 toed cat. Many of the cats found at the house have 6 toes. I'm not sure how many people find the idea of a 6 toed cat fascinating, but many people visit Hemingway's house just to see the cats.
Hemingway's house is now a museum. Tours are offered daily, for a fee.
Although visiting the house where Ernest Hemingway lived for over ten years seems to be a tourist trap, it's actually an interesting and totally worthy activity.
Apart from Hemingway’s fascinating life and his legendary drinking habits, the real attractions of the museum are the cats; over 50 felines that loved to be observed by the visitors. Just remember to not pick up them ;-)
the hemmingway house is one of the most visited attractions in key west. ernest hemingway (1899-1961) is considered one of america's best novelists of the 20th century. he received a pulitzer prize for his "old man and the sea" in 1953 and a nobel prize for literature in 1954. his most famous works are, "the sun also rises" 1926, "a farewell to arms" 1929, "for whom the bell tolls" 1940, and the "old man and the sea" 1953. hemingway lived and worked in this house from 1931 through 1940 and then again in the 1950's. ernest hemingway is one of key west's most famous residents. a very interesting place to visit in key west especially for those interested in american literature.
The cats that live in the home and on the grounds are descendants of the cats he kept while he lived in the house, including many extra-toed (polydactyls) cats. It looks like they are wearing little mittens.