The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott, Arkansas is the refurbished home and barn studio of Pauline and Mary Pfeiffer, parents to Pauline Pfeiffer, the second wife of Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author, Ernest Hemmingway. The home and barn have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. Both the home and the barn were built in 1910 by W. D. “Buck” Templeton. The property was purchased in 1913 by Paul and Mary Pfeiffer, Pauline’s parents, and Pauline grew up in the home.
The Hemingways frequently visited the home through the 1930’s during their marriage. Pauline’s sister converted the barn into a studio space for Hemingway to write in while the couple stayed in Piggott. Hemingway wrote portions of ‘Farewell to Arms’ as well as several short stories in the barn. The story, “A Day’s Wait” was written specifically about Pauline and Ernest Hemingway’s 1932 visit to the Piggott, Arkansas home. During this visit, the barn studio caught fire and most all of Hemingway’s possessions were lost. Evidence of the fire may still be seen at the museum today, although the barn has since been repaired. Exhibits at the museum emphasize themes of literature and world events of the 1930’s, family and life in the 1930’s, and northeast Arkansas’ development during the New Deal era and the Great Depression. The site has been restored by Arizona State University, which currently owns the property. The University used an aerial photo from 1937 to map the original property, and the home and the barn have been restored to their 1930’s glory through cross-reference of letters, photographs and oral histories. Many items in the home belonged to the Pfeiffers, including a collection of Stickley furniture.
History: Pauline Pfeiffer met Ernest Hemingway and his first wife in 1925 when she was living and working in Paris as an editor for Vogue magazine. She became close friends with the Hemingways, and began to spend more and more time with them. Over a Christmas ski holiday to Austria, Ernest and Pauline began an affair that would eventually lead to divorce for Ernest, and his marriage to Pauline in 1927. Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida, was a gift from Pauline’s uncle, who remained a financial benefactor of the couple throughout their marriage. The Hemingways spent their 13-year marriage traveling between the home of Pauline’s parents in Arkansas, the home in Florida, and Europe and Africa. Hemingway’s marriage to Pauline fell apart in 1940 when he met Martha Gelhorn, a journalist who would become his third wife.
Paul and Mary Pfeiffer, Pauline’s parents, were prominent residents of Arkansas and owned more than 60,000 acres of property, much of which they converted to farmland and leased to tenant farmers. The property in which Pauline and Ernest Hemingway lived was acquired from Beatrice Janes and her husband in 1997 by Arkansas State University. The Janes had purchased the property in 1950 after the death of Pualine’s mother Mary Pfeiffer, the last of the Pfeiffers to live in the home. The Museum and Educational Center opened in 1999, the same year of Hemingway’s 100th birthday. The home was the University’s first Heritage Site. Today, the University manages eight such heritage sites, which provide educational resources for students of the University as well as the general public. The mission of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center is to contribute to the understanding of the 1920’s and 1930’s through the socially elite Pfeiffer family, and the writing and life of Ernest Hemingway. The Education Center aims to foster interest in literature and writing by leveraging Hemingway’s fame as a noted American author.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The museum offers guided 90-minute tours daily, every hour on the hour. Groups should schedule in advance. School tours for students in grades 4 through 12 can be customized to focus a particular area of study. Most tours explore the economics of the Depression era, popular architectural, fashion and music styles of the 1920’s and 30’s, and the short stories of Hemingway. The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center is host to two annual writer’s retreats. Writers from all backgrounds and experience levels are invited to work in Hemingway’s barn studio and receive mentorship from noted authors. Past mentors have included Garry Craig Powell, a novelist and associate professor at the University of Central Arkansas, and Andrea Hollander, a poet from Portland, Oregon.
1021 West Cherry Street Piggott, Arkansas 72454, Phone: 870-598-3487