Ernest Hemingway's long presence in Key West has always had a profound effect on the town that sits at the end of the Florida Keys, and the author and his second wife Pauline remain among the most favored past residents of the town.
Visitors who wish to explore the life of Ernest "Papa'' Hemingway may visit the residence where he and Pauline lived throughout the 1930s. Purchased for the couple by Pauline's wealthy uncle in 1931, the house on Whitehead Street in Olde Town Key West became the Hemingway Home and Museum in 1964, three years after Hemingway's death in 1961. The author, who divorced Pauline in 1939, had spent much of the 1940s and 1950s living in Cuba but visited his Florida home frequently. The Key West property was later sold to Mrs. Bernice Dickson, whose family continues to oversee the museum and grounds.
The home, built in 1851 by marine architect Asa Tift, is Spanish Colonial in style and is made from native rock that was garnered from the site on which the house sits. Inside, much of the furniture used by Hemingway, his wife, and his sons Patrick and Gregory still remains a part of the home. Much of it was purchased during the Hemingway's stay in Europe as well as on Papa's trips to Africa and other locales. Visitors can admire ornate chandeliers and other decorative pieces as well as a number of works in Hemingway's extensive collection of art, though some originals have been sold to museums and replaced with replicas.
The home was also the first in Key West to have a pool, built in the 1930s for the cost of $20,000. At 65 feet-long, it remains the largest residential pool in the town.
Inside this Key West, Florida home is where Hemingway did much of his best writing, including the penning of the books A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, Green Hills of Africa, To Have and Have Not (about Depression-era Key West), and For Whom the Bell Tolls. It is said that the author would spend his mornings writing and in the afternoon would explore the town with his many friends, who were known as the Key West Mob. He was a huge fan of deep sea fishing and made many trips to Cuba, Bimini, and the Dry Tortugas with his friends to practice his favorite sport.
The Hemingway Home and Museum is also home to approximately 60 cats, many of them descendants of Hemingway's famed 6-toed cat, an animal which was presented to the author by a sea captain friend. The museum feeds and cares for the cats, most of whom bear names of other famous individuals.
Tours of the Hemingway Home and Museum are available 365 days a year and are guided and narrated by a group of colorful locals who know everything there is to know about the house, the cats, and the author.
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