Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Pauline, moved to Key West, Florida, from Paris, France, in April of 1928. Ernest finished his novel “A Farewell to Arms,” in only three short weeks and the couple made friends with several Key West residents. After two years, the Ernest and his wife decided that they would make Key West their permanent home and Pauline’s uncle purchased a home for them on Whitehead Street in 1931 for $8,000 in back taxes that was owed to the city.
The home had been originally built in 1851 by Asa Tift. The home was constructed from limestone rock that was native to Key West and hewn from the ground around the property. Asa Tift had 14 slaves that completed the construction of the home and the stone was hand cut since power tools were not invented at the time of construction. Electricity was not added to the home until 1899.
The Spanish Colonial architecture was in very bad shape when the Hemingway’s moved in, but they undertook the massive restoration project and were able to turn the home into the National Landmark that it is today in just a few short years and $20,000, which was a great cost in the 1930’s Visitors can still see a penny that Hemmingway pressed into the drying concrete proclaiming that the construction was taking every penny that he had. Indoor plumbing was not added to the home until 1944 when Key West began piping in water from Florida City.
Photo: The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
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