Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Key West and the Ernest Hemingway House.

Today we are off to a day trip to Key West.

Map picture


This is how the small island keys look.


P1055345 Milepost Zero, the southern most highway point.



Chickens are allowed to roam free in Key West. Jenna thinks they need to fly or become supper.


We had lunch at the ‘Six Toed Cat’, that is beside the Ernest Hemingway House.

Ernest Hemingway House.

The Ernest Hemingway House, officially known as the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, was the residence of author Ernest Hemingway in Key West, Florida, United States. It is located at 907 Whitehead Street, near a prominent lighthouse close to the Southern coast of the island. On November 24, 1968, it was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark.


This was Hemingway's home from 1931 to 1939.[1] It is a private, for-profit landmark and tourist attraction now populated by six and seven-toed cats that guides claim are descendants of Hemingway's cats. The author's second son, Patrick, who lived in the house, stated in a 1994 interview in the Miami Herald's "Tropic" that his father had peacocks in Key West, but no cats; he owned cats in Cuba. In a 1972 L.A. Times interview, Hemingway's widow Mary denounced the sale of "Hemingway cats" by the owners of the house as "An outright lie. Rank exploitation of Ernest's name." The house no longer sells cats. [4] Ernest Hemingway converted a urinal from Sloppy Joe's bar into a water fountain. The fountain remains a prominent feature in the yard at the home. [1]

It was in this house that he did some of his best work, including the final draft to "A Farewell to Arms," and the short story classics "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber."

The house stands at an elevation of 16 feet above sea level, but is still the second-highest site on the island. It was originally built by Asa Tift, a marine architect and salvage wrecker, in 1851 in colonial southern mansion style, out of limestone quarried from the site. As testament to its construction and location, it survived many hurricanes, and the deep basement remained, and remains, dry.[5] The house was one of the first on the island to be fitted with indoor plumbing, and the first on the island to have an upstairs bathroom with running water, fed from a roof rain cistern. Also notable are a built-in fireplace, and the first swimming pool in Key West, and the only pool within 100 miles in the late 30's. Hemingway's second wife, Pauline, spent $20,000 to have the deep well-fed pool built for her husband while he was away as a Spanish Civil War correspondent in 1938. When Hemingway returned, he was reportedly unpleasantly surprised by the cost, and exclaimed: "Well, you might as well have my last cent." This penny is embedded in concrete today near the pool.[1] In the "Tropic" article, Patrick Hemingway referred to this story, and others told by uncertified guides at the house, as "apocryphal".

In 1935, when the visitor bureau included the house in a tourist brochure, Hemingway hired his friend, driver, and handyman Toby Bruce to build the high brick wall that surrounds it today.[6]

Another of Hemingway's loves was boxing. He set up a ring in his yard and paid local fighters to box with him as well as refereeing matches at Blue Heaven, then a saloon but now a restaurant, at 729 Thomas Street.

The grounds of the house are maintained as a garden, with many tropical plants installed after Hemingway moved to Cuba. In Hemingway's time, the grounds, like the island, were sparse and dry due to lack of water that only came later, with the Navy's installation of a water line from mainland.

The house was originally purchased by Hemingway for $8,000. It was sold after his death, empty, and without furniture or books. Although tour guides claim that certain items belonged to Hemingway, none of the furniture, books, or other items in the house, except for one chandelier, can be documented as having been owned by the author. His writer's studio, where he stayed briefly when visiting from his home in Cuba, once was connected by a second story walkway to the master bedroom. The walkway, shown in pictures from archives, has not been reconstructed. A garage on the property was built after Hemingway's departure.




Cats are everywhere. There are 40 or 50 on the property.


Ernest Hemingway’s writing studio above the pool house.


Me in the gardens of the house.



Ernest Hemingway’s studio is on the second floor of the pool house.


Bananas growing at the house. That is Teri’s hand in the photo.


It was a cool day with the hi of 58F and windy.

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