We're all familiar with the Hemingway on safari, Hemingway the drunk, the bull-fighting fan and the Nobel Prize winner, but behind that accomplished and masculine facade was a boy whose mother cut his hair to match his sister's.
The Hemingway birthplace, built by his maternal grandfather, bristles with unique memorabilia, such as his father's taxidermy, an array of family photographs, a Chinese vase and a rocking chair that sits in a bay window. The restored Queen-Anne-style home pays homage to the influence of his family, each anecdote delivered by a knowledgeable docent tracing a particular Hemingway trait back to his childhood roots. For instance, Hemingway apparently inherited his lyricism from his mother's side of the family, which was steeped in composers. The surrounding woods and farmland left him with a love of the outdoors. He shared his imagination and adventurism with his uncle who was a traveling salesman known for his yarns. Like his father, Hemingway would eventually kill himself with a shotgun. In short, if you're into Freudian psychodynamics, this is your dream home.
Architecturally, it doesn't even belong in the same neighborhood as the Frank Lloyd Wright designs down the street. The $1 million grant the foundation received from the state barely covered the restoration process, leaving the stairway in disrepair and an elevator bearing a post-it-note that reads, "Out of Order." But Hemingway was never known for flashiness. The facts alone impress. Subtle details, like the original telephone number, 181, carries an aura because Hemingway might have picked up that receiver.
The Hemingway museum, located in a Christian Science church nearby, displays knickknacks whose value stems from their proximity to Hemingway's hand, such as his first book, written when he was two years old, a simple series of drawings on his father's letterhead that possess so much mysticism.
Centerstage Reviewer: David Rosenstock