People from all over the world travel to visit the Key West home where Ernest Hemingway wrote a number of his best-known works, including the novel “To Have and Have Not” and the short-story classics “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”
The author lived in the house for most of the 1930s — and today it contains a whopping 55 cats, all of which are descendants of the writer’s own cats. With its distinguished Spanish Colonial architecture, the house has been a popular tourist destination for years.
Many people feared the home would be lost to the ravages of Hurricane Irma, yet the house’s caretaker and 10 staff members refused to leave the property.
Caretaker Jacqui Sands, who is 72, remained at the house — a National Historic Landmark that is officially known as the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. Sands felt an obligation to take care of the property and the cats, which famously have six and even seven toes in some cases.
Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter, actress and model Mariel Hemingway, begged Sands to leave and be safe.
“I think that you’re a wonderful and admirable person for trying to stay there and save the cats, and save the house, and all that stuff,” Hemingway told TMZ on Friday. “But ultimately, it’s just a house. Save the cats. Get all the cats in the car and take off.”
Sands, the staff members, and the cats ended up lucking out over the weekend. Irma caused far less destruction in Key West than expected — there was much more damage in the other keys.
The TMZ site reported it had been told all the cats and occupants of the home were just fine after Irma.
Aside from a few fallen trees, there’s not much more damage to speak of on the property. Despite fears, the Hemingway House remains standing and fans will be free to visit the home, its lush gardens, and flowers — and the cats — for years to come.
(photo credit, homepage image: Acroterion)