Ernest Hemingway remains one of Key West's most famous residents. His home is a national landmark, operated as a house museum. A great example of Key West architecture, it is located on a large, garden filled property.
Wide roof overhangs and galleries shade the house to keep it cool. Large, multiple french doors allow breezes to flow through the rooms. Hemingway's bedroom on the second floor demonstrates the amount of wall space dedicated to ventilation. Below, the view from the bedroom gallery.
A building behind the main house has the entire second floor dedicated to a study and writing room for Hemingway. Again, designed for natural light and ventilation.
The gardens surrounding the house provide a quiet, colorful environment, and fresh Key Limes for a drink mixer or pie. Just stepping outside the door brings the communing with nature experience for relaxation and inspiration.
Harry Truman still lives in Key West. That's him pictured at left. Hemingway had a passion for cats, having numerous cats with free roam of the house. Their descendants carry on the tradition. All the cats are named for famous people, including a recluse who lives under the house, Howard Hughes. The cats carry a mutant gene which gives about half of the offspring 6 toes, making the front paws look like they are wearing mittens.
From the attention and press they receive, the six-toed cats may have become more famous than their master. The kitchen curtains depict a true scene of cats walking across the dining room table.
One of the Hemingway tales crosses stories from his drinking, his cats, and his wives. A favorite drinking establishment, Sloppy Joe's, was in a building just off Duval Street. The landlord was charging a Depression-era rent of $3/week, but felt that he needed to up the rent to $4/week. The owner protested, told the patrons that if they helped move the furniture they would get a free drink. Enthused cooperation quickly moved everything out of the old location to the new, including the urinals from the restroom. Hemingway talked him out of one of the urinals, which he installed in the garden as a drinking bowl for the cats, much to the dismay of his wife-at-the-time. Not winning the battle to have it removed, she decided to try and camouflage it by installing a large vase from which the water would flow and Spanish tiles along the edge of the urinal. It stands in the same state today. Lore has it that some cats still refuse to drink from the urinal, jumping on the vase to catch the water as it flows over the top.
Hemingway had Pilar built to his specifications in 1934, a modified 38 foot Wheeler Playmate. One modification was adding a roller to the stern, to ease boating of large fish.
Fishing may have become more of a passion for Hemingway than writing. In 1935, he won every fishing tournament in the Key West, Havana, Bimini triangle.
|Ernest Hemingway, wife Pauline, and sons, Bimini, July 20, 1935|
While Hemingway harvested many fish from the seas, he also worked with researchers from the Smithsonian Institute in documenting fish and sea life in this area.
His time aboard Pilar is claimed to have inspired two of his novels, The Old Man and the Sea, and Islands in the Sun.
His home in Cuba, Finca Vigia (lookout farm), is operated as a museum, with everything left as it was when he died, including his 9,000 book library. Pilar was left in his will to his Cuban boat captain, Gregorio Fuentes, who, at the age of 101, gave it to the Cuban government to be included in the museum exhibit. The museum is open 7 days a week. Our Canadian friends can visit the museum. Those of us with U.S. citizenship can be imprisoned for researching history at this museum in person.
Your reading list has grown - http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/hemingway.html
|Pilar - Painting by Paul Rothacker|