The remarkable home of the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway

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Verica Sitnik
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Ernest Hemingway is one of the greatest writers of 20th century. His biography is presenting that he was a complicated man. Lost in his world of creativity, Ernest found peace from fame in the sleepy little town in Florida, in grand two story villa which today is known as his home.

For 10 years this remarkable Spanish Colonial style house was home to the writer and his second wife Pauline. While his cats took a joy in the beautiful garden, his family find a comfortable warm home in this place, Ernest heard the voice of his inspiration and wrote one of his best work: “To Have and Have Not”.A new masterpiece was born right here, on the upper floor of the carriage house in the back yard.

The facade of Hemingway’s house in Key West. Author, ERIC SALARD.CC BY-SA 2.0

A beautiful red-brick wall marks the border of the property, beyond which can be seen a fountain in a circular shape with a floral decoration in the middle in the center of the front yard, just before the entrance to the house. The fountain is surrounded by lush vegetation, with a lot of trees, flowers, and grass.

Photo of Ernest Hemingway. Author, L’Isola D’Oro. CC BY 2.0

The entrance door of the house is high and semicircular on the upper part, made of glass with wooden frames. Also, the similarly shaped windows are situated at ground level and are almost as tall as the door. The wooden frames and shutters are painted olive green, perfectly complemented by the pale green of the facade of the house. The black handrail and balcony support pillars complete the clean look.

The kitchen. Author: inazakira. CC BY-SA 2.0

Most of the furniture in the house is made in 17th and 18th century designs, especially Queen Anne style decorated walnut pieces. In the room on the right side of the entrance, there are portraits of Ernest Hemingway hung on the grayish-green colored walls.

Hemingway’s writing desk with the typewriter.

In the chamber on the opposite side, a large dining table is placed in the center and pictures of Hemingway taken from different places all around the world hang on the walls. There are two beautiful black candlesticks attached to the walls as well.

Hemingway book collection, second floor. Author, inazakira. CC BY-SA 2.0

In the kitchen, the upper part of the wall is white, and in the beneath half, in the line of cooking elements, the wall is covered with dark brown tiles that have white decorations in a circular shape. All kitchen items are white colored, the dishwasher and the stove, the little commode with drawers which is placed in between them, and the fridge as well. The floor is made of dark brown wooden planks.

Hemingway’s bedroom. Author, Sam Howzit. CC BY 2.0

Climbing the stairs to the second floor, the first thing to greet visitors are shelves full of books belonging to the personal collection of the famous writer, fastened with glass protection. In the bedroom, the large ornately carved wooden bed in which the author slept is flanked by a matching pair of nightstands. Beautifully designed mirrors can be seen hanging on the walls in the space between the windows. The floor tiles of the adjoining bathroom resemble a chess board in dark brown and bright colors. The entire home is lit during the day by the glamorous windows.

A view from the terrace. Author, inazakira. CC BY-SA 2.0

From the balcony there is a spectacular view of the garden dominated by the large palms. The terrace is extensive and has a green floor surrounded by a black railing. Here are also stairs which lead directly to the yard. In the garden, there are many types of plants and a lot of paths which are made of concrete brick. An unusual but at the same time surprising fact is that there is a cat cemetery in the garden, with grave stones containing the names of the cats and the year they died.

The pool. Author, inazakira. CC BY-SA 2.0

Ernest Hemingway was famous for his obsession with the cats, and some who are present in the house today are believed to be descended from his original cats. There are wooden benches set all over the garden along the paths. The in-ground swimming pool is the most stunning feature of the Hemingway home. Completed in 1937, the pool is 60 feet long, 24 feet wide and around 10 feet deep, with small sculptures of elephants that stand along the edges.

The writing office. Author, karlnorling. CC BY 2.0

The construction of this pool was costly, around $20,000, which was an enormous amount of money at that time. There is also a small wooden bridge in the pool area, leading to another part of the garden. In Hemmingway’s writing office, which overlooks the pool area, the walls are decorated with distinct animal trophies and there are many little shelves of books. In the center of the office stands a circular table and a chair, and on the top of the table is the typewriter Hemingway would have used to write some of his famous manuscripts. The writing room also has large windows which give the chamber daylight brightness.