The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
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.
The house was built in 1851 by Asa Tift, a marine architect and salvage wrecker, and became Ernest Hemingway's home in 1931. The house still contains the furniture that he and his family used. The cats about the home and grounds are descendants of the cats he kept while he lived in the house, including many extra-toed (polydactyls), like the one Papa Hemingway loved.
Ernest Hemingway visited Key West for the first time in 1928. The home was abandoned due to the Tift family’s struggle to stake claims on the estate. But, even being abandoned and boarded up the home caught Ernest and Pauline’s eye, Hemingway purchased the property in 1931 for $8,000 in back taxes from the City of Key West.
Ernest Hemingway, wife, Pauline and their 2-sons, Patrick and Gregory lived together on the estate from 1931-1940.
Hemingway left Key West for Cuba circa 1940. From 1940-1951 Pauline stayed in the home with her 2 sons, Patrick and Gregory.
Pauline died 1951. 1951-1961 the house was technically vacant though the caretaker Toby Bruce remained on the property. Hemingway never moved back in during this period but would use the home much like a hotel on his trips between Cuba and Ketchum, Idaho
Hemingway died July 2nd 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho. The sons all agreed to sell the estate.
Bernice Dixon, owner of the Beachcomber Jewelry Store, formerly on Duval St. bought the estate at a silent auction for $80,000. She resided in the home as her private residence until 1964 when she was humble enough to move into the rear guest quarters (book store) and opened the main home (only) as a museum and considered it a memorial to the life and times of Ernest Hemingway . In 1968 Bernice moved to a home in the lower keys and the Hemingway guest quarters then became the Bookstore where it remains today.
Bernice passed away in the late 80’s and left the estate to her family and they operate it as the museum that you visit today.
Today, the estate still remains to be the single largest residential property on the island of Key West.
The Hemingway Home is a National Historic Landmark, Literary Landmark and recorded at the Library of Congress as a Historic American Building.
Museum is open daily 365 days
9AM – 5PM