I had the pleasure of visiting the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum and in this blog post, I’ll share my firsthand experience, the literary insights gained, and the enchanting ambiance that surrounds this home.
Who is Ernest Hemingway
Ernest is a famous American author who was born in the midwestern suburb of Oak Park. His writing style is bold and succinct, and many of Hemingway’s works are considered classics of American literature.
Through early years and experiences as a journalist, short story writer, and novelist, Ernest became a celebrated Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winner. His mastery of narrative prose has maintained significant influence for generations.
Ernest Hemingway Birthplace
The Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum is located in Oak Park, Illinois. To truly understand the man behind the words, one must explore the town where it all began.
The Hemingway family home was built in the Victorian Queen Anne style in 1890 by Hemingway’s maternal grandparents. It was in this house that Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899.
The home was meticulously restored from recovered photos to reflect the period when the Hemingways lived here. The Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum is located at 339 N Oak Park Ave.
The Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum Tour
What to Expect
The tour delves into his family’s history. Hemingway’s parents, Dr. Clarence Hemingway and Grace Hall Hemingway played pivotal roles in shaping his character and interests.
As I entered the house, the waiting area was filled with books about the author. The tour starts at the top of the hour, so it’s a good way to spend time while you wait. There are chairs and benches for resting on the porch if you arrive early.
The tour started on the first floor, where I saw the parlor where young Ernest first learned to appreciate music, the dining room where the family shared meals, the library, and the kitchen.
Displays of photos, books, and other artifacts provide background on Hemingway’s childhood influences.
On the second floor, I saw the private bedrooms of the servant and members of the Hemingway household, even Ernest’s nursery.
There is a collection of authentic memorabilia, manuscripts, and personal belongings. There are strong ties with the family of the American actor, Humphrey Bogart.
I learned about the architecture, interior, and artifacts that offer insight into Hemingway’s early life included the Hemingway residences.
Ernest Hemingway Interesting Facts
- In his youth, his mom dressed Ernest to look like his sister’s twin.
- Ernest Hemingway worked as a spy for the U.S. government and J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, hated him and laid snares to entrap him.
- Ernest Hemingway survived two plane crashes.
- Ernest Hemingway enjoyed traveling and had residences in France, Cuba, Florida, and Idaho.
Ernest Hemingway Books
Here is a list of five Ernest Hemingway books that are most well-known and influential. The following books would make great travel companions on your next adventures.
- The Sun Also Rises (1926) – Hemingway’s first novel, about American and British expatriates in Paris and Spain after World War I. It is considered one of his most important works and a classic of modernist literature.
- A Farewell to Arms (1929) – This is a tragic love story between an American ambulance driver and an English nurse set against the backdrop of World War I in Italy. It is loosely based on Hemingway’s own experiences during the war.
- For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) – A novel about an American man fighting alongside Spanish rebels in the Spanish Civil War. It explores themes of death, sacrifice, and disillusionment.
- The Old Man and the Sea (1952) – This is Hemingway’s famous novella about an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles to catch a giant marlin far out at sea. This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953.
- The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1936) – A short story collection that contains some of Hemingway’s most acclaimed works, including the eponymous story about a writer reflecting on his life as he succumbs to gangrene in Africa.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tours cost around $20.
- The museum is typically open Thursday through Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, except Saturdays when it opens at 10:00 AM. However, it’s a good idea to check their official website for the most up-to-date information.
- Tours start at the top of the hour and take about one hour.
- Incremental donations for the museum are accepted.
- The museum is wheelchair accessible.
- Photography is generally allowed inside the museum for personal use. However, it’s always courteous to ask the staff for any specific guidelines.
- Just a short stroll away, you can also delve into the architectural designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, a visionary who left an indelible mark on Oak Park from his home and studio and Unity Temple. It’s easy to do both tours in a day and the villages hosts fun summer events that you can enjoy during your visit.
Final Thoughts about the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum
The architecture details of decorative crowns, cypress wood, and lace panels, felt like a visit to an era of elegant lifestyle.
I found the glimpse into Hemingway’s Childhood fascinating. Exploring the home where one of America’s literary giants got his start was insightful, and the guide was highly skilled at storytelling. I was captivated and engaged the entire time.
You can discover the legacy of Ernest Hemingway at the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum in Oak Park and find souvenirs that reflect Oak Park. It is a great place to visit if you love literature and desire insight into the author’s life.