by Shayne Benowitz
Key West has certainly attracted its share of creative luminaries adding a little something extra special to the already unique panorama of our tropical island. Harry Truman, Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume, Elizabeth Bishop, Tennesse Williams… and the list goes on. For me, and for many visitors of the island, Ernest Hemingway holds a special place in Key West’s storied past. It also helps that the large home he occupied with his wife Pauline from 1931-1939 has been wonderfully maintained. Today, it operates as a museum dedicated to one of America’s most influential literary voices.
The Hemingway House located on Whitehead Street is an absolute must visit. You can’t drink margaritas all day every day, right? Take an afternoon and stroll to this grand home located on a quiet stretch of the road right across the street from the historic lighthouse. The two story home features Spanish design elements and a full wraparound porch.
The home lies on a sprawling garden with a swimming pool that at the time cost more money to build than the actual property itself. The separate writing studio where Hemingway penned many of his most important novels including For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms is another inspiring feature. Descendents of Hemingway’s beloved cat, Snowball, still roam the grounds and loll around the house.
A guided tour is definitely the way to go as your friendly and informative guide narrates the story of Hemingway in and out of Key West. Weave throughout the rooms with original furniture and relics of Hemingway’s past. You’ll learn about his ex-pat life prior to his stay in Key West, his travels to Cuba and Africa, as well as the many real life characters that inspired him. The bookstore and gift shop is a great place to purchase one of his novels with the official Hemingway House stamp on it making for a nice souvenir.
Shayne Benowitz is a Fury crewmember and freelance writer working on her debut novel. For more travel stories and a daily dose of what’s cool around the globe visit her Wanderlust Website at http://web.me.com/shaynebeth.