Ernest Hemingway’s Florida mansion suffers wind damage from Hurricane Ian but cats fine
Ernest Hemingway’s mansion on the Florida Keys has been battered by Hurricane Ian’s 155mph winds, but all the six-toes cats that roam the property have been reported safe.
The famous home, where the great American scribe wrote 70 per cent of his published works, has been struck by debris and suffered superficial wind damage, according to The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum App.
But the structure is sound and the cats doing fine after being put into sheltered cages as the Category Four hurricane lashed the property on Tuesday into Wednesday.
‘We’ve seen some debris blown across the grounds and wind damage. A lot has been blown across the garden,’ spokesperson Alexa Morgan told DailyMail.com.
Staff have been working to clean up the leaves and tree debris and have the museum open for business once again tomorrow.
‘All out cats are safe – we don’t put them in cages, they walk around and naturally know to get to safety during storms,’ Alexa said.
‘The cats and staff are safe. We are cleaning the debris today and will resume open for tomorrow.’
All 59 cats that roam the building, which dates from the 1930s, and call it home, have been accounted for.
Ernest Hemingway’s famous home in the Florida Keys is still standing after being in the firing line of Hurricane Ian as it barreled over the sunshine state
One of the famous six-toed cats rests on a bench next to a fallen tree branch as all 59 cats that live in the home were reported to be safe and sound
A member of the famous six-toed cat colony chills outside a door next to a wet floor sign outside Ernest Hemingway’s Florida mansion in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian
One of the celebrated Hemingway House cats is seen in its cage ahead of the hurricane
Ernest Hemingway’s Florida Keys home seen in better times in February 2020, before it was lashed by Hurricane Ian
The Florida home is well equipped to withstand the many storms it has faced over the decades. It is 16 feet above sea level, has 18-inch-thick limestone walls, and three generators.
Staff at the Hemingway Home spent days preparing for the arrival of the tempest, battening down the hatches and putting the cats in protective cages.
Some staff members even stayed on site during the storm to take care of the six-toed creatures.
The cats colony has been a famous feature of Ernest Hemingway’s house ever since the day when a sailor gave him a six-toed cat, which he named Snow White.
Some of the cats who live there today are descendants of that original ancestor and all share the unusual number of toes for a cat.
Whereas regular cats have five toes on the front paws and four on the rear – so 18 in total – Hemingway’s cats are polydactyl cats, which have six or sometimes seven toes on the front paws.
Hurricane Ian has now largely passed over the panhandle state, wreaking untold damage and killing ‘hundreds’ in the wake of flash flooding and wind storm damage.
Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter said before the storm hit that she was praying the beloved mansion would be spared by the hurricane.
Mariel Hemingway, 60, said her grandfather was passionate about his homes and the community around them.
The house was originally given to Hemingway and his second wife, Pauline, as a wedding gift from her uncle.
‘If any of his houses were destroyed the pain and sorrow would be palpable,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘It would be upsetting if any of his houses were affected.’
The famous cats of Hemingway’s house are seen in cages, in readiness for the storm
The Key West property is home to a colony of six-toed cats, as seen here on a fence regally looking down on the camera
Ernest Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida, locked down in preparation for the impending arrival of Hurricane Ian
Mariel Hemingway (right), the actress granddaughter of Ernest (left), told DailyMail.com the family would be devastated if the Florida home of the author was damaged
9/27 – As of the latest 5pm advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ian continues to move north in the Gulf of Mexico, roughly 50 miles south-southwest of the Dry Tortugas. Maximum winds remain at 120mph. Be sure to stay tuned to the latest NHC and NWS updates. pic.twitter.com/o8pguPUCj7
— NWS Miami (@NWSMiami) September 27, 2022
One of the resident cats is seen reclining on a bed inside the 180-year-old home
While living at the house, Hemingway wrote some of his best received work, including Green Hills of Africa, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Islands in the Stream
The house featured a swimming pool dug into the coral on which Key West is set: at the time of its construction, it was the only one for 100 miles
Hemingway’s hunting trophies are seen inside his office in Florida
The celebrated author owned three homes – in Key West; Ketchum, Idaho, and the Cuban capital Havana – and relished turning them into lavish residences where he would work, rest and entertain.
His Florida Keys home was used as a location in the 1989 James Bond film, License to Kill.
‘He would buy his houses from France to Ohio because he loved them and loved the areas and the people,’ she said.
After his divorce from Pauline in 1940, Hemingway moved to Cuba and Pauline remained in the home until her death in 1951.
The house was sold for $80,000, initially as a private residence. In 1964 it was turned into a museum.
Mariel, whose father Jack was the only child of Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson, said he would have been relieved his Cuba house was spared by Hurricane Ian.
Mariel Hemingway is seen in 2013. She grew up at the Hemingway house in Ketchum, Idaho
The actress is seen in May 2015 signing copies of her memoirs