Hemingway House

More From Florida

The entity of Ernest Hemingway has found
peace and serenity doing what he loved.

Another broken-hearted spirit stays here to be near
her beloved Ernest, finding a way to help him still.



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 claimed 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.

hemingway-paranormalAsa’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. He found peace from fame and 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 to be a place where he could enjoy privacy, his family, the view of 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 due to his emotional baggage and 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. Her remodeling projects included the kitchen being attached to the main house, and adding a small breakfast nook. 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, and lived happily her for ten years, with their boys, Patrick and Gregory. The couple bought 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 can also read various articles, enjoy 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!4+ 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. 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. New folks moved in who were 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-loo 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 after ten years of marriage. It didn’t help that he had a girlfriend, Martha, on the side. Pauline had given up her own writing career so she could bet devoted to his career. Pauline was awarded a divorce on the grounds of desertion, as Ernest left Pauline for Cuba. She must have been heart-broken that Ernest dumped her.

Her efforts wound up not being enough to keep him as her husband. He was damaged goods with commitment issues when she married him. He left his first wife to be with her.

After his 1939 divorce from his wife Pauline, 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 lasted 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, after one of her sons was arrested,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.



Couples while alive who had a troubled relationship sometimes work on their relationship in their afterlife resulting in being able to co-occupy the same space.

Edith Wharton Estate: The Mount, MA (While alive, Edith and her husband Teddy had to divorce due to Teddy’s mental illness. As spirits, they have moved back inside their forever home, and have been working on their damaged relationship, doing their favorite thing together, reading).

Saint Francis Inn, FL (A forbidden relationship between the soldier son and a young black slave girl has been able to flourish with the spirit couple who now stay here. The spirit of the slave still is part of the housekeeping staff, and the young soldier has fun flirting with the female staff and guests, but the spectral couple still make love in the attic.

Hemingway House, FL (The spirits of Ernest and Pauline are together again in the same favorite place. They seem to have let their past marital troubles go and are willing to be a co-habitating spectral couple again, willing to share the same space to find personal peace).


People who take their own lives sometimes stay in this world, choosing to look for the peace they weren’t experiencing while alive.

Old Allen House, AR (The spirit of LaDell stays in her Family’s home, finding some peace with the company of her spectral family members).

Whaley House, CA (The spirit of Whaley daughter Violet is still very upset but is comforted by her spectral parents in the family forever home).

Hemingway House, FL (After struggling with physical issues that caused his spiraling depression, Ernest Hemingway shot himself in the head in 1961, and is spending his afterlife in his favorite Key West place. 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 afterlife here).


Spirits who decide to spend their afterlife in their favorite place in this world, often continue what they loved to do the best while alive.

Hemingway House, FL (The spirit of Hemingway is writing again in his favorite spot, and probably enjoys walking around the property. The spirit of Pauline Hemingway also loved this house, a place of happy memories with the man she loved during the first years of their marriage. This is where she raised her boys. It was a labor of love, that she renovated and remodeled. She too likes to see all her improvements, as well as helping Ernest by typing his stories, something she loved to do).


People who experience a shattering loss sometimes don’t get over the grief suffered 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 of loss, wanting to stay where they have found comfort.

Bee Bennett Mansion, CA (The spirit of Molly Bennett while alive never got over the tremendous loss of her children, and remains the spectral hostess).

LaFitte’s Guest House, LA (The spirit of a woman still grieves for her children who died from Yellow Fever).

Hemingway House, FL (The spirit of Pauline was devastated when Ernest left her for his new chick-on-the side. She must have some peace being so close to him once again by seeing him work from her special window and do what she can for him).



The entities of Ernest and Pauline Hemingway still reside here. They may have established their old relationship, such as it was, letting the past be the past. They may focus on the time when their relationship was great.

Spirit of Ernest

Ernest Hemingway’s spirit has chosen to stay earth-bound, and make this lovely Key West house his afterlife 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.

He enjoys walking around the outside yards, and graveling from the house to his work loft.

His apparition has been seen moving around the house as well, perhaps enjoying all of the artifacts from his life on display.

Personal Appearances

Neighbors have seen his figure, around midnight, looking out a second floor window.

His entity is an affable fellow. People have seen his spirit waving at them from the second floor veranda.

He is friendly with the staff and the visitors, though in life he didn’t care for the public.

Spirit of Pauline

Her spirit loves the garden area, and enjoys the flowers and appreciates the care given by the living to keep it in fine shape!

She loves her memories of the happy times they all had as a family, living together in this special home.

She is a gracious hostess, a cultural norm she learned from her upbringing. She may enjoy having visitors who come to see the exhibits of her beloved’s work and his artifacts, as she is still his biggest fan.

She still loves to smoke. She has been seen smoking at the garden gate, where she arranges her cigarettes.

Still In Love

Pauline’s love and dedication to Ernest despite how he treated her has not waned in her afterlife.

Her spirit still likes to watch out the window on the stair landing, and see her spectral husband Ernest who is writing in his loft, and enjoy her memories of seeing her boys playing outside from this spot.

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.

Pauline’s Personal Appearances

The entity Pauline has been seen by tour guides and guests throughout the house, as she goes about her business as the spectral lady of the house.

She has been seen smoking at the garden gate, where she arranges her cigarettes.

Her gray apparition has been seen the most at the top of central staircase by staff and visitors, being the courteous, welcoming hostess. This social pleasure was something she didn’t get to do much while alive, because Ernest abhorred outside visitors.


Staff members. visitors and neighbors all have had experiences with Ernest and Paula, making them believe that these two are still residing here.

Paranormal group SEFGR have caught some hard evidence pointing to the existence of spirits in the house museum and Ernest’s writing workroom in the loft.


Most Probably so.

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.



907 Whitehead Street
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 294-1136

The Hemingway House can be found on Whitehead Street, near Olivia Street, which is in the old historical section of Key West.



  • https://ghostcitytours.com/key-west/haunted-key-west/haunted-hemingway-house/
  • https://southernmostghosts.com/most-haunted-places-in-key-west-4-ernest-hemingway-home/
    Posted by blogger in Southern Most Ghosts
  • HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory, by Dennis William Hauck, 2002
  • thehauntchroncl.tripod.com
  • hemingwayhome.com
  • floridaparanormalresearch.com
  • paranormalknowledge.com

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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