Key West’s Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum

IMG_1361The Hemingway home was purchased for the author and his then wife, Pauline, by her wealthy uncle Gus in 1931 shortly after the couple arrived on the island of Key West. Built in 1851 in the Spanish Colonial style, the Hemingways undertook extensive restorations to revitalize the home. One of the unique features added to the home was the in-ground pool, built during the 1930’s, becoming the first in-ground pool on the entire island of Key West. The $20,000 cost of the pool IMG_1366drove Hemingway to exclaim that the project had taken his last penny and he famously took a penny out of his pocket and pressed it into the wet cement, where it still exists today.

Though the architectural details and the elaborate European furnishings have remained in place, it is clear that the decor has transitioned from how Hemingway lived into a homage to its former owner. In addition to personal artifacts that include letters, war medals and other mementos, the walls are lined with magazine covers, portraits of the author and even a wall dedicated to portraits of Hemingway’s wives.

Nearly as strong as the desire to see the property that the Nobel Prize winning author calledIMG_1370home, is the desire of tourists from around the globe to see the home’s famous six-toed cats. Hemingway House is inhabited IMG_1377by upwards of 50 of the polydactyl cats, some claimed to be descendants of Snowball, the six-toed cat given to Hemingway by a ship’s captain during his time in Key West. Hemingway began the tradition of naming all of his cats after famous people, a past-time that is carried on by the museum today. In addition to the cats that roam the inside of the house and outside museum grounds, there is an area off of the chapel that serves as the dedicated Pet Cemetery.

907 Whitehead Street, Key West