Skip to main content

Ernest Hemingway House – an Interesting Insight

Ernest Hemingway House is officially referred to as the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum.This was actually the residence in Key West, Florida, United States of author Ernest Hemingway. It is located across the Key West lighthouse, at 907 Whitehead Street, near the Southern coast of the island. It was nominated in 1968 as the historic landmark of the U.S. Nation.

Hemingway and the cats
Hemingway was married to Pauline and he liked cats, while his wife wanted peacocks and so the yard had lots of peacocks. The place teems with Hemingway cats that are six-toed cats and they are for generations stretching on his couch and readily curled up on Hemingway’s pillow. These gypsy cats were a gift to Hemingway’s and they descended from Snowball. These pterodactyl cats bring luck and so enjoyed a pampered good fortune. Hemingway was the only person to have his lifestyle choice without bothering about his reputation. Even now, the Hemingway Home & Museum have felines roaming in the estate in a small group.

Hemingway House
Hemingway house was built in limestone and was furnished by Pauline, his second wife. The beauty of this home was enhanced with gorgeous gardens, a fountain created of a bar urinal and the first pool in Key West. After the death of Hemingway, his home was emptied, yet it contains items furnished appropriate to Hemingway’s taste.
Hemingway stayed from 1931 to 1939, but retained the home until his death. It is now a private tourist attraction place populated by six and seven toed cats that are Hemingway’s cat’s descendants. Hemingway’s second son, Patrick, said in an interview in 1994 that the Key West house had peacocks and his cats were in Cuba.
The house stands at 16 feet (4.9 m) height above sea level, yet it is the second-highest site on this island. It was built by Asa Tift, a marine architect and salvage wrecker in 1851. He built it in a Spanish colonial style, using limestone quarried from the site. It proved the testament to its construction as it survived many hurricanes, and even today the deep basement remains, dry.

Amazing Features
Hemingway’s house had the best indoor plumbing and was the foremost on the island to have bathroom upstairs with running water that was fed featuring a rain cistern placed on the roof. This house was the first one to have pool and built-in fireplace. Hemingway showed in 1936 to a reporter during an interview the plan location for a pool. Later, it was his wife, Pauline who got the deep pool built for $20,000 for her husband in 1938 as he was a Spanish Civil War correspondent and was away from his home. Hemingway was surprised by the cost and gave a cent and this is found embedded near the pool even today in concrete. Later in 1937, Pauline hired Toby Bruce and Ernest’s friend driver to built high brick wall surrounding the house and this was the time Ernest was in Spain.
Another love of Hemingway was boxing. So, he set a ring in his yard and also paid his local fighters to box with him. He refereed matches at Blue Heaven that is now a restaurant, at 769 Thomas Street.

Hemingway’s house changed hands
The house and the garden were maintained even after Hemingway moved to Cuba. However, Hemingway’s house was purchased for $8000 and in 1961 after Hemingway’s death; the house
was sold to the museum founder, Mrs. Bernice Dickson. A Murano glass chandelier in the dining room was highly prominent. Upstairs were the books owned by Hemingway, when he lived in Key West. In the second floor was the writers studio in a carriage house that was free-standing and he stayed here on visiting his home in Cuba. There was a walkway connecting the master bedroom.
In 1988, the house became a filming location for the 16th James Bond movie ‘Licence to Kill’. There was a scene that showed Bond resigning from the secret service and fleeing through the garden. In protection, the fictional guards watch from Light across the street.

Descendants of Hemingway
Hemingway’s descendants the original cats lived in the premises. The cats in 2009 attracted the federal litigation as a visitor to the museum expressed concern about the welfare of the cats. The Agriculture investigators of the United States visited the museum and ordered to take measures so that the cats are tagged and sheltered. The museum fought and lost in the court and so the cats were under the Animal Welfare Act 1966. Thus the 45 six-toed cats charms went futile against the federal regulators. They sat, cats are living and breathing exhibit so they need a federal license.

The ludicrous part
The ludicrous part was if the federal regulators dealt with the welfare and health of the cats, it would have been appreciated, said a great nephew of the woman, Michael A Marowski, who bought in 1961 the Hemingway house, the same year as Hemingway died and she opened in 1964 the same as a museum. However, the bid of the museum to hold the cats for nine years from the Department of Agriculture failed.

Cats in good care
Hemingway cats bear famous people’s names and most of them are neutered or sprayed. The cats are allowed to lounge on the Hemingway’s furniture; they eat well and have their cemetery near the garden. In fact, the Agriculture Department sent People to assess the situation of the animals in 2005, and the group’s investigator completed happily: “What I found was a bunch of happy, fat and relaxed cats. God save the cats.”
The asserted statement from the department to its authority was to look after the welfare and health of the cats, but some consider it a risk. Eventually, the appellate court accepted that the museum has fed and kept the cats in good condition also providing veterinary care every week for the Hemingway cats.

Hemingway’s House now a Museum
The museum now is unaffected. It has reached in 2008 for a settlement with the department where it granted an exhibitors license to the museum and asked to extend the fence height, upgrade cat shelters and to add few bowls to drown bugs.But Mr. Marowski confirmed that he fight was not over. He said, ‘The museum would be
subjected to any changes in the regulation, and unfortunately anything may upend the cats and the museum. However, an Agriculture Department spokesman, David Sacks said that proper daily care must be ensured and tracking things such as rodent infestation and toxic peeling paint must be considered. A night watchman was recommended by the agency for the cats. There was an impromptu field trip by a federal judge, but nothing changed the Hemingway cat’s lives and a question was if Hemingway really owned a six-toed cat.
The Hemingway Museum scheduled timings are:
 10am to 4pm, Monday thru Saturday
 9am to 1pm, Sunday