Hemingway Home Museum - Key West, FL Nestled in the heart of Old Town Key West, this unique property was home to one of America's most honored and respected authors.

Hemingway Home Key West

Hemingway Home Museum – Key West, FL

hemingway-home-museum-key-westhemingway-home-museum-key-west

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is located at 907 Whitehead Street and nestled in the heart of Old Town Key West, this unique property was home to one of America’s most honored and respected authors.

Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here for more than ten years. Calling Key West home, he found solace and great physical challenge in the turquoise waters that surround this tiny island.
Step back in time and visit the rooms and gardens that witnessed the most prolific period of this Nobel Prize winner’s writing career.

Educated tour guides give insightful narratives and are eager to answer questions.

Hemingway Home Museum - Key West, FL

Hemingway House Six-Toed Cats

Wander through the lush grounds and enjoy the whimsy of the more than forty cats that live there.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. Cats normally have five front toes and four back toes. About half of the cats at the museum have the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, which means that the ones that have 4 and 5 toes can still mother or father six-toed kittens. Most cats have extra toes on their front feet and sometimes on their back feet as well. Sometimes it looks as if they are wearing mittens because they appear to have a thumb on their paw.

hemingway cats
 
Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snowball. Key West is a small island and it is possible that many of the cats on the island are related. The polydactyl cats are not a particular breed. The trait can appear in any breed, Calico’s, Tabbies, Tortoise Shell. White, Black, etc. They vary in shapes, sizes, colors and personalities.

 Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Routine procedures such as ear mite treatment, flea spraying, and worming are performed here at the museum by our Veterinarian, Dr. Edie Clark. Dr Clark also administers annual vaccinations, and performs routine animal health maintenance.
Hemingway named all of his cats after famous people so we follow that same tradition today. Cats are capable of learning and responding to their names, particularly if they have an affectionate relationship with the person who calls them.

The Hemingway home was built in 1851 in the Spanish Colonial style, and was constructed of native rock hewn from the grounds. The home was in great disrepair when it the Hemingways took ownership, but both Ernest and Pauline could see beyond the rubble and ruin, and appreciated the grand architecture and stateliness of the home. The massive restoration and remodeling they undertook in the early 1930’s turned the home into the National Historical Landmark that thousands of tourists visit and enjoy today.
 
A unique and extraordinary feature of the grounds is the pool, built in 1937-38, at the staggering cost of $20,000. It was the first in-ground pool in Key West, and the only pool within 100 miles. The exorbitant construction costs once 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!” Tourists are invited to look for the penny, still embedded between flagstones at the north end of the pool.

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The Hemingways’ personal touches still abound throughout the house. Many of the unique furnishings are European antiques collected during their stay on the continent. The trophy mounts and skins were souvenirs of the Hemingways’ African safaris and numerous hunting expeditions in the American west. Ernest’s presence can still be felt in his studio where he produced some of his most well-known works. In addition, a very visible and living link to the past are the descendants of Hemingway’s cats. The story goes that Hemingway made the acquaintance of a sea captain who owned an unusual six-toed tomcat, which captured Ernest’s fancy. Upon his departure from Key West, the captain presented the cat to Hemingway. Today many of the numerous cats that inhabit the grounds still possess the unusual six toes.