Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum
Location Name: Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum (Oak Park, Illinois)
Location Type: Museum (Historic Home)
Year Completed: 1890
Ernest Hemingway was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. His novels shared themes of love, war, wilderness and loss and have become a part of our American cultural heritage. Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953 for his The Old Man and the Sea, and the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. Though it has been more than fifty years since his tragic death, Hemingway’s legacy is as strong as ever.
The home in which Hemingway was born was built in 1890 by his maternal grandparents, Ernest and Caroline Hall. The Queen Anne-style home was purpose built for their retirement years in the then-quiet bedroom community of Oak Park. Shortly after Caroline’s death, Hemingway’s parents moved into the home with the Ernest Hall and began a family. Ernest, named after his grandfather, was born in a second floor bedroom on 21 July 1899. He lived in the home until his grandfather’s death in 1905. At age six, Ernest left the Hall home and moved into a new house, also in Oak Park, where he spent the remainder of his childhood years. The home passed through several hands until being acquired by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park in 1992.
The EHFOP had previously opened the Hemingway Museum in the Oak Park Arts Center in July 1991. The museum housed a significant collection of Hemingway memorabilia obtained from a Minneapolis collector and the family of Ernest’s sister Marcelline. Now with the actual birth home in their possession, the foundation moved to restore the wonderful new asset. The first floor of the home was opened to visitors in June 1993, despite the continued restoration work. By November 1993 the second floor was presentable and the home was fully opened to visitors for the first time ever. After much fundraising and effort on behalf of the EHFOP and the community of Oak Park, the renovations were completed in November 2001. Preservation architect John Thorpe, providing his help pro bono, played a significant part in the restoration process. Though Hemingway was not known for fondly remembering his time in Oak Park, his self-proclaimed neighborhood of "wide lawns and narrow minds" applauds the contributions of Hemingway; one of its favorite sons.Sources