Haunted Dwelling — The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
907 Whitehead Street
Key West, Florida 33040
Web Link * (305) 294-1136
The Hemingway House can be found on Whitehead St., near Olivia St., which is in the old historical section of Key West.
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum has been a National Historic Landmark since 1968, which would've pleased both Ernest and Pauline. This grand, handsome home was built in 1850, by leading citizen, Asa Tift, for his family and himself. Asa was a talented marine architect and very successful salvage wrecker, who was one of Florida's wealthiest men in the 1850s. Asa knew what he was doing, in building this lovely, Spanish Colonial style two story villa, using coral rock quarried on its property. Asa added his own architectural touches, such as putting up New Orleans wrought-iron porch railings, balcony supports and lovely Italian marble fireplaces.
Unfortunately, Yellow Fever came to town and killed Asa's wife and two children. After going to New Orleans during the Civil War to build battle ships, he returned to his home and built the fountain in front, to make it look like one of the unfinished battleships that he never got to finish in New Orleans.
Asa's labor of love is best known as being Ernest and Pauline Hemingway's home; where they raised their 2 boys, and where Ernest was creatively inspired to write, in between his many trips, overseas news correspondent gigs, and other adventures. Ernest Hemingway, who was a journalist and writer, published seven novels; six collections of short stories; and two works of non-fiction. For his novel, The Old Man and the Sea, he won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
Ernest was a complicated man, with issues that he struggled with, but he ALWAYS loved this oasis from the world, in a town that accepted him, finding peace from fame, and from some of his inner demons. From 1928-1938, He considered the sleepy little town of Key West his refuge and found this Spanish Colonial style home, a place where he could enjoy privacy, his family, the view of the the ocean, garden, and express himself using his gift of writing. He wrote some of his best work, such as "To Have and Have Not" in his studio loft, located on the second floor in the carriage house just behind the main house. As Ernest wrote with pencils, his sister Sunny and his wife, Pauline, would type his manuscripts for him.
Pauline also loved their Spanish Colonial style home. She was the one who first saw this vintage fixer-upper, badly in need of some TLC! Described by a friend as being "a wreck of a house", Pauline saw its possibilities, and Ernest loved older homes, and agreed... Pauline's rich uncle generously helped Ernestine and Pauline buy this Key West oasis to be.
Pauline was Ernest's second wife, who truly loved him, despite the reality that he was a hard person to live with, because of his emotional baggage and his priorities. Ernest Hemingway had a need, an obsession to experience life on the edge, whether it was having adventures while hunting for big game or fishing for big fish with his friends or being a war correspondent. Ernest also liked to drink hard and sometimes strayed from his marriages, when his current marriage that he was involved in was strained. All these behaviors built up his image he needed of himself, as being a "virile, macho male specimen." Though, Ernest tried in the early years of each of his marriages to be a family man and husband, as much as he was able to muster.
Pauline was a trooper, in that she tried to accept Ernest as he was, and kept herself busy in several ways. Pauline lived to renovate, and she organized repairs, renovation projects, and remodeling, creating a lovely home! The second floor loft of the carriage house behind the main home, became Ernest's area to write. Among her remodeling projects; Kitchen was attached to the main house, and a small breakfast nook was added. The kitchen counters were raised several inches, so Ernest could clean his fish without straining his back. A catwalk was put in to connect the second-floor master bedroom to Ernest's floor loft in the carriage house.
Ernest and Pauline made this home their own. The couple bought European antiques, and other decor in Paris and Europe, and shipped it back to Key West. Notable antiques that can be found there include Pauline's Parisian chandelier collection, her 18th century Spanish walnut dining table, porcelain sculptures and paintings.
Visitors enjoy looking at not only the family furniture and treasures, but also can read various articles, memorabilia in various exhibits on the first and second floor rooms. Many of Ernest's trophies from his fishing and big game hunting adventures can still be seen hanging on the walls. The saltwater pool, next to the building in the back, was built in the late 1930s, the first pool that was built in Key West. Pauline put the pool in as a surprise for Ernest, costing $20,000. Pauline hoped to please him, and win him back, as she sensed he was drifting away from her, a tendency he had in his relationships. He was furious and accused her of trying to spend all his money!
Things changed in Key West during the Great Depression, which upset Ernest. The Depression had hit Key West hard, and the town was reinvented by the Florida mainland as a tourist holiday spot, which was terribly disappointing to Hemingway. The city government of Key West folded up, and control of the town was taken over by the Florida state government. People he had known lost everything, moved away, and new folks moved in, inspired to build an attractive tourist destination, bringing their noise, and annoying habits. Hemingway's house of course was put on the maps of famous places, causing unwanted intrusions from mainland tourists.
in 1935, Ernest was fed up with looky-lou tourists walking into his yard, and even coming into the house, invading his privacy. Ernest had his friend Toby build a wall of stone to give all of the Hemingway clan and his celebrity guests some peace, away from the throngs of humanity who came to Key West, eager to see famous people.
An added disappointment to Ernest was that some people in Key West didn't like the way Key West was portrayed in his novel, "To Have and Have Not," a novel which protested the Key West take-over by the mainlanders. Hemingway felt he was losing his closeness with the Key West community, that had changed so drastically.
Not good in relationships, his marriage to Pauline began to fall apart. It didn't help that he had a girlfriend, Martha, on the side. Pauline was awarded a divorce on the grounds of desertion, as Ernest left Pauline for Cuba. After his divorce from his wife, Pauline, in 1939, Ernest lived in Cuba with his new wife, Martha, while Pauline and the boys lived in the Key West home. This marriage to Martha didn't last long, only 5-6 years. Ernest divorced her and married again, Mary; a relationship that stayed together for the rest of his life.
However, Ernest did use this Key West home as a stop-over residence, on the way to somewhere else, while he lived in Cuba, still seeing his kids and Pauline. When Pauline died in 1951, Ernest rented the main house, fully furnished. When the Cuban revolution erupted in 1959, Ernest moved to Idaho, with his 4th wife, Mary, where he stayed until his death.
When Ernest killed himself in 1961, this home was sold by his estate to local, Key West residents, Bernice and her husband. In 1964, Bernice and her husband opened the house as a private museum, but continued to live in the loft area, in the building behind the main home. Today, the property remains in the hands of their family, who still run the house as a museum, proudly displaying all the Hemingway furniture, and memorabilia, adding Hemingway's loft on the tour.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
People who take their own lives sometimes stay in this world, choosing to look for the peace they weren't experiencing while alive. After struggling with diabetes, sight loss, physical issues, which probably caused his mental depression, Ernest Hemingway followed in the steps of his father and shot himself in the head in 1961, while living with 4th wife, Mary.
Some of Ernest's happiest moments of peace and serenity, and self-worth took place in this house.
While still living at Key West, he told others that he would probably spend his after-life here.
People who experience a shattering loss, sometimes don't get over the guilt and pain, and seek comfort in their favorite spot; their home. When they pass on, they may stay in this world, not able to let go of the pain, wanting to stay where they have found comfort.
Pauline Hemingway also loved this house; a place of happy memories with the man she loved, during the first years of their marriage; the place where she raised her boys, and the place that was a labor of love, that she renovated and remodeled.
She must have been heart-broken that Ernest dumped her for his girlfriend. Her efforts wound up not being enough to keep him as her husband.
The entities of Ernest and Pauline Hemingway still reside here.
Ernest Hemingway's entity has chosen to stay earth-bound, and make this lovely Key West house his after-life home.
Ernest likes to stay in his writing workroom, where he wrote some of his best work.
SEFGR recorded some interesting evidence in his writing workroom in the loft.
His apparition has been seen moving around the house as well.
Neighbors have seen his figure, around midnight, looking out a second floor window.
His entity is an affable fellow, and has been known to wave at people walking by.
The entity Pauline has been seen by Tour Guides and guests. Her gray apparition has been seen at the top of central staircase. While alive, she liked to watch out the window there, and see her husband Ernest, writing in his loft, and see her boys playing outside.
Pauline is still helping Ernest — The VP sound of a typewriter can be heard by the living. Perhaps she is still trying to help Ernest, keeping her connection to him.
Eye witness accounts are believable, and SEFGR's evidence points to at least Ernest is still in residence.What is odd is that he isn't angry about so many people coming to see his home. Perhaps he has found a peace and has let go of some of his issues, now that he is on the other side.
Pauline has also been seen by a lot of people, though I can't find any hard evidence proving that she is there, outside of eyewitness accounts. But knowing her history, she is probably there as well.
HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory, by Dennis William Hauck, 2002.
SEFGR * thehauntchroncl.tripod.com * hemingwayhome.com
away.com * floridaparanormalresearch.com * paranormalknowledge.com