Surrounded by lush gardens, the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum became a fortress to 11 staff members when Hurricane Irma made a direct hit on the Florida Keys over the weekend.
Curator Dave Gonzales and 10 staff members, along with 54 cat descendants of Ernest Hemingway's own cat, stayed on the museum property despite a mandatory evacuation order for the island chain. Forbes reported that the museum group has been in contact since the storm, noting they have supplies and generators to stay at the estate.
“We sit at one of the highest elevations of land in all the Florida Keys,” said Gonzales to Forbes. “Ten employees who lived in unsafe low-lying areas came to us. Now they’re safe. The home is constructed of 18-inch blocks of solid limestone. It hasn't suffered damage in any hurricane since the day it was built in 1851."
Hemingway and his second wife Pauline and two sons (Patrick and Gregory) lived in the Key West house from 1931 to 1940. There, he wrote his classic novel, To Have and Have Not and part of For Whom The Bell Tolls.
The home is still full of the author's personal items---from his typewriter to his collection of 17th and 18th century European antiques.