I visited Key West over New Years (when it was 30 degrees here) and upon hearing that the grounds were inhabited by over forty cats I felt I needed to visit the Ernest Hemingway house.
Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here for more than 10 years. The house was built in 1851 by Asa Tift and became Hemingway’s home in 1931. Hemingway was prompted to visit Key West by John Dos Passos, a fellow “Lost Generation” member. He went from Paris to Cuba, before finally arriving in Key West. His wife’s uncle had purchased a car for them and they stayed in an apartment on the island while they waited for it to be completed. It was in this apartment that Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms. After two seasons in Key West Hemingway and his wife decided to find a permanent residence there. Uncle Gus, his wife’s uncle, purchased them the Hemingway house. The home was in extreme disrepair when they purchased it, but Hemingway and his wife restored it and made it a national landmark. One of the features they added was a $20,000 pool which was the first pool on the island.
The gardens outside of the home are beautiful, even today.
And as promised, the six toed cats were lounging in every corner of the grounds. These cats are direct descendants of the cats Hemingway kept and loved. The story is that a sea captain came to the island bearing an unusual six-toed cat. The cat struck Hemingway’s fancy so much that when the captain left he gifted the cat to him. They are everywhere.
The inside of the home is decorated ornately. Hemingway was very into furniture and paintings. Many of the furnishings in his home are European antiques that he personally collected when he lived abroad. His wife had them shipped over along with her chandeliers.
This was Hemingway’s writing room.
Hemingway wrote many works while in Key West including Death in the Afternoon and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway spent ten years in this home but his presence is still felt everywhere. The massive and impressive restoration he did on this home made it a national landmark which still draws a billion tourists all the time. If you ever get down to Key West, make sure to visit this iconic location. You won’t be sorry.
Posted by Jennifer Hubbard