Ernest Hemingway House: A Literary Haven in Key West

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    • Overview of the Ernest Hemingway House as a historic and literary landmark in Key West, Florida.
    • Brief explanation of its connection to the renowned American author, Ernest Hemingway.
  2. The History of the House
    • Explore the rich history of the Ernest Hemingway House, dating back to its construction in 1851.
    • Highlight its previous owners and the transition that led to Hemingway’s residency.
  3. Hemingway’s Time in Key West
    • Discuss Ernest Hemingway’s decision to reside in Key West with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and their children.
    • Explore the significant period during which Hemingway penned some of his most renowned works.
  4. Literary Significance
    • Highlight the literary significance of the Ernest Hemingway House and its influence on Hemingway’s writing.
    • Discuss how the house and Key West’s tranquil environment shaped the themes and settings of his stories.
  5. The Legendary Six-Toed Cats
    • Explore the charming attraction of the polydactyl (six-toed) cats that inhabit the Ernest Hemingway House.
    • Discuss their connection to Hemingway and their endearing presence on the property.
  6. Architecture and Gardens
    • Describe the architectural style of the house, combining Spanish Colonial and Bahamian influences.
    • Highlight the lush gardens surrounding the property, contributing to its historical charm.
  7. Preservation and Restoration
    • Discuss the efforts made to meticulously preserve and restore the Ernest Hemingway House.
    • Emphasize the authenticity of the house and its representation during Hemingway’s residency.
  8. Hemingway Days Festival
    • Explore the annual Hemingway Days Festival, a tribute to the author’s work held in Key West.
    • Discuss the literary events, look-alike contests, and readings that celebrate Hemingway’s legacy.
  9. Conclusion
    • Recap the significance of the Ernest Hemingway House as a literary haven and tribute to the author’s enduring influence.
    • Emphasize its role in preserving Hemingway’s literary legacy for visitors to experience.
  10. FAQs
  • Address common questions and inquiries about visiting the Ernest Hemingway House and interacting with the six-toed cats.
  • Provide additional information for readers interested in planning a visit.


The Ernest Hemingway House, located in the charming city of Key West, Florida, is a historic and literary landmark. It was the beloved home of the iconic American author, Ernest Hemingway, during the 1930s. Today, the house stands as a museum and a tribute to Hemingway’s life and works. In this article, we will explore the history of the house, its connection to the renowned writer, and the literary legacy it preserves.

1. The History of the House

The Ernest Hemingway House, built in 1851, has a rich history that predates the author’s residency. It was originally constructed by Asa Tift, a prominent figure in Key West’s maritime industry. Over the years, the house changed ownership multiple times before becoming the residence of Ernest Hemingway in 1931.

2. Hemingway’s Time in Key West

Ernest Hemingway, already an accomplished writer, sought solace and inspiration in Key West. He spent nearly a decade living in the house with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and their two sons. During this time, Hemingway penned some of his most renowned works, including “A Farewell to Arms” and “To Have and Have Not.”

3. Literary Significance


The years spent at the Ernest Hemingway House were a prolific period in the author’s career. Hemingway’s writing routine and the tranquil environment of Key West influenced the themes and settings of his stories. Today, visitors can explore the spaces where Hemingway wrote and gain insights into his creative process.

4. The Legendary Six-Toed Cats

One of the most notable features of the Ernest Hemingway House is the presence of polydactyl (six-toed) cats. These felines, descendants of Hemingway’s original pets, roam the property freely. Their unique characteristic has become a charming symbol of the house and an endearing attraction for visitors.

5. Architecture and Gardens

The house’s architectural style, combining elements of Spanish Colonial and Bahamian influences, reflects the historical charm of Key West. The lush gardens surrounding the property add to its allure, providing a serene and picturesque setting for visitors to enjoy.

6. Preservation and Restoration

The Ernest Hemingway House has been meticulously preserved and restored to maintain its historical integrity. Efforts are made to showcase the house as it appeared during Hemingway’s residency, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the author’s life in Key West.

7. Hemingway Days Festival

Key West pays tribute to Ernest Hemingway and his literary legacy through the annual Hemingway Days Festival. Held in July, the festival celebrates the author’s work, and enthusiasts from around the world gather to participate in literary events, look-alike contests, and readings.


The Ernest Hemingway House stands as a literary haven and a testament to the enduring influence of one of America’s greatest authors. As visitors explore the house, its gardens, and the company of the six-toed cats, they are transported to a time when Hemingway found solace and inspiration in the tranquil haven of Key West. Today, the house preserves its literary legacy, inviting visitors to walk in the footsteps of a literary giant.


1. Can visitors interact with the six-toed cats at the Ernest Hemingway House?

Yes, visitors are welcome to interact with the polydactyl cats that roam the property. These felines are friendly and often enjoy the attention of visitors.

2. Are guided tours available at the Ernest Hemingway House?

Yes, guided tours of the house and gardens are available to provide visitors with insights into Hemingway’s life in Key West and the literary significance of the property.

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