Welcome to Papa’s House!
Whether composing novels in his Key West writing studio, fishing for big game offshore or throwing back Cuba Libres at Sloppy Joe’s, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author, Ernest Hemingway, spent much of the 1930s living here and creating a powerful legacy on our small island.
Hemingway’s former home at 907 Whitehead Street is now a landmark museum, and it’s where he wrote many of his best-known works, including “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” “For Whom the Bells Toll,” and the Key West-based “To Have and Have Not” – his only novel set in the United States. The Spanish Colonial-style villa was originally built in 1851 and constructed of native rock hewn from the grounds. The home was in great disrepair when the author and his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, purchased it in 1931.
But both Ernest and Pauline could see beyond the rubble and ruin and appreciated the grand architecture and stateliness of the home. The couple remodeled the house, filled its rooms with European antiques and lined the walls with Hemingway’s big-game hunting trophies. They also built Key West’s first in-ground pool to the tune of $20,000 which today is akin to about $347,000.
The exorbitant construction costs prompted Hemingway to take a penny from his pocket, press it into the wet cement of the surrounding patio, and announce jokingly, “Here, take the last penny I’ve got!” That same penny remains embedded between flagstones at the north end of the pool.
Although he lived in Key West for just nine years, Hemingway wrote seventy percent of his lifetime works here which is considered to be the most prolific period of his life. Following his death in 1961, an unpublished manuscript was discovered in a vault in the property’s garage. It later became “Islands in the Stream,” one of Hemingway’s most acclaimed masterpieces.
In 1964, Hemingway’s home became a museum and is now one of Key West’s most popular attractions. Today you can tour this “Literary Landmark,” peer into Hemingway’s second-story writing studio and meet the colony of six-toed cats who are said to have descended from the author’s beloved six-toed cat, Snowball.
If you want to see something really special while you’re in Key West, the Hemingway Home & Museum is an absolutely “must see.”
For more info, call 305-294-1136 or hit up hemingwayhome.com.