The Hemingway Home & Museum
A visit to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home was on the top of both DH’s & my list.
The largest single-family home property on Key West, this home sits on just under 1 acre of land. Lush, tropical growth makes this home seem a bit of paradise.
Then there are the polydactyl cats! 52 of them currently! We met:
Judy Garland, kitten from the most recent litter
Barbara Stanwyck, the sleek black cat on the bed in the master bedroom – white bedspread…
“Hairy” Truman, Betty Grabel & many other Hollywood star-named multi-toed cats who have the run of the premises.
They are allowed on the furniture, in & out of the house & are ready to have their ears scratched by all the visitors to this landmark.
Our tour guide had lots of stories about the Hemingway family, the kids, wives & ex-wives & said the local legend was that Ernest used to lighthouse to find his way home from the local bars. The light house is just across the street.
The home was built by Asa Tift, a brilliant ship architect in 1849 from the calcified coral limestone he found when excavating a basement. This basement has remained dry in every hurricane to hit this island since that time. The cats escape there during rainstorms even now.
What I find absolutely amazing is the house, constructed from this limestone, has never “settled” – there are no cracks, no evidence that this house has moved at all since the stones were set 165 years ago! The house we sold last winter…the same can not be said!
Obviously a brilliant man, (Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize, etc.) he suffered from Bipolar Disease, eventually allowing physicians to try a “new” technique to try & break a deep depression. Electric Shock Therapy was not the cure-all doctors had hoped it would be. His treatment robbed him of his memories, robbed him of his future. So sad.
I think I’ll watch all the old movies based on his books when I get home. 2/3’s of his writings were done in this house.