IRMA AND THE HEMINGWAY HOUSE: KEY WEST

May the Hemingway house and all people in the path of Irma stay safe.  Best, Christine

Managers at Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home not heeding Mariel Hemingway’s plea to take the cats and go!

A six-toed cat, one of many that reside at the home of author Ernest Hemingway, is seen February 18, 2013 in Key West, Florida. Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship's captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snow White. AFP PHOTO/ Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A six-toed cat, one of many that reside at the home of author Ernest Hemingway, in 2013 in Key West, Florida. Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snow White. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: At around 1 p.m. PST, Dave Gonzales, executive director of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, confirmed to CNN that he and nine other employees were staying through the fierce winds and rain expected with Hurricane Irma, saying the legendary author’s 1851 house, with its 18-inch-thick limestone walls is “the strongest fortress in all the Florida Keys.” Original story follows: 

Actress Mariel Hemingway thinks it’s noble that the 72-year-old general manager of her grandfather’s historic Key West home wants to stay and try to safeguard the property and its famous six-toed feline residents as Hurricane Irma comes barreling in.

But she’s begging Jacqui Sands to leave the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum to protect her life.

The Ernest Hemingway House is seen in this February 16, 2016 photo in Key West, Florida. / AFP / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
The Ernest Hemingway House is seen in this February 16, 2016 photo in Key West, Florida. / AFP / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images) 

“I think you’re wonderful and an admirable person for trying to stay there and to try to save the cats and the house,” the Academy Award-winning actress said in a video posted by TMZ. 

“This is frightening. This hurricane is a big deal,” she said, adding that she should, yes, save the cats if she can.

“Get in the car with the cats and take off,” she said.

The legendary author’s home, where he wrote “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,”  is in the path of Irma, which is now categorized as a category 4 hurricane and is expected to hit the Florida Keys and other parts of southern Florida Saturday evening.

General manager Sands is tasked with securing the property and ensuring the safety of the 55 cats that freely roam there. Many of the cats are believed to be descendants of the author’s cat Snow White and have the distinctive six and seven toes on one paw.

1954: American novelist Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961) on safari in Africa. (Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American novelist  on safari in Africa in the 1950s. (Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) 

Sands won’t be there alone with the cats. She’ll be joined by nine other employees, who have helped to stock up on food, water and medication for the cats and to board up windows and doors. They also have three generators to keep the power and air conditioning going. The other employees couldn’t leave because either they don’t have a car or couldn’t find a flight out, she said.

 

That confidence was echoed by the museum’s executive director Dave Gonzales, who told the Houston Chronicle that the 1851 French colonial home has 18-inch thick limestone walls that allow it to withstand dangerous storms.

“This isn’t our first hurricane. We’re here to stay,” Gonzalez said.

In an interview with CNN Friday afternoon, he added that at 16 feet above sea level, the house is not in a flood zone. As for the cats, he said they are adept at surviving storms, and the home has never lost a cat to a hurricane.

“Cats know naturally when to go. As soon as the barometric pressure drops, they come in,” Gonzalez said. “They know before humans do when it’s time to get in.”

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Actress Mariel Hemingway attends the 2015 Hope For Depression Research Foundation Luncheon at 583 Park Avenue on November 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
Mariel Hemingway in 2015 (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images) 

But Mariel Hemingway isn’t so confident and points out that “it’s just a house.”

She acknowledged that “none of us likes to lose things we treasure” but “ultimately you’ve got to protect your life.”

Hemingway then referred to that famous idea espoused by her grandfather in his prose.

“Courage is grace under pressure,” she said. In this case, “I think this is taking things a little too far.”


2 thoughts on “IRMA AND THE HEMINGWAY HOUSE: KEY WEST”

  1. These people are truly loyal to the responsibility they have accepted as caretakers of the treasures associated with the Hemingway House, the books, trophies, furniture, the many cats, the structure itself.
    They are risking their lives for the house.
    May the house protect them.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Walter. Thank God it turned out well. It is more than a job for them. It is a mission and a passion. I agree with all of your kind thoughts for the Hemingway heritage. Best to you. Christine

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