"Beautiful Cats with Six Toes" Hemingway's Cats Tip by apbeaches

Hemingway's Cats, Key West: 10 reviews and 26 photos

The house was built in 1851 by Asa Tift, a marine architect and salvage wrecker, and became Ernest Hemingway's home in 1931. The house still contains the furniture that he and his family used. Legend has it that Hemingway owned the home from 1931 until his passing in 1961. The Spanish Colonial style home was constructed of native rock from the grounds.

The pool at the Hemingway House was the first residential swimming pool built in Key West and at 65 feet long is still the largest. There used to be a diving board at the far end, which is 9 feet deep. The pool is filled from a saltwater well in the old smokehouse, a concrete, fern covered building near the pool. The pool, built in the late 1930's, cost $20,000. This price prompted Hemingway to take a penny from his pocket and press it into the wet cement of the surrounding patio and announce jokingly, "Here, take the last penny I've got!" That penny is still there.

Although we missed the tour we walked through Hemingway's home petting cats on the way. His personal touches still abound throughout the house, many of the unique furnishing are European antiques collected during their stay on the continent. The trophy mounts and skins were souvenirs of Hemingway's African safaris and numerous hunting expeditions out west. The author's presence can still be felt in his studio where he produced some of his most well known works. A very visible and living link to the past are the descendants of Hemingway's cats. The story goes that Hemingway made the acquaintance of a sea captain who owned an unusual six-toed tomcat. Upon his departure from Key West, the captain presented the cat to Hemingway. Today 60 cats that inhabit the grounds still possess the unusual six toes.

Address: 907 Whitehead St.
Directions: Across from the lighthouse
Phone: 305-294-1136
Website: http://www.hemingwayhome.com/HTML/house.htm

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  • Updated Feb 21, 2010
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