A National Historical Landmark
The Ernest Hemingway House was the residence of author Ernest Hemingway in Key West, Florida, United States. It is at 907 Whitehead Street, across from the Key West lighthouse, close to the southern coast of the island. On November 24, 1968, it was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
It was on the advice of John Dos Passos, a fellow member of the “Lost Generation” of ex patriate artists and writers populating Paris during the 1920s, that Hemingway was first prompted to visit Key West. Hemingway did not go directly to South Florida from Paris, but rather arrived through Havana, Cuba—a city and country that would prove to be critically important in Hemingway’s later personal and professional life.
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 exhorbitant 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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