The childhood home of Ernest Hemingway in Oak Park, Ill., has been sold; the deal closed Tuesday. A couple will turn the three-story house, which was divided into three apartments in the 1930s, back into a single-family private home.
The Ernest Hemingway Foundation purchased the property in 2001 in hopes of making it a cultural center, the Associated Press reports. Those efforts failed to come to fruition and the house was put on the market for $525,000, which was its final price.
The house was designed by architect Henry G. Fiddelke in collaboration with Grace Hall Hemingway. The Hemingway family moved to the house in 1906, when Hemingway was 7. "The building was built originally as a glorious home for entertaining,” real estate agent Steve Scheuring said. “Ernest’s mother was really the one that took charge in assisting the design of the home. It once had a music room off the north side and she [Grace] held music events in the home while the front two rooms off the entry foyer were his father’s physician offices.”
Hemingway slept in a third-floor bedroom until he graduated from high school. According to some reports, he began writing fiction there before leaving to write for the Kansas City Star; others say he returned to the house after World War I, writing there while recuperating from his injuries. In any event, the legend stands that Hemingway began writing in the house in Oak Park.
Buyers Kurt and Mary Jane Neumann plan to make the home a single-family residence where their family can live. But that doesn't mean the doors are locked. “We don't want anyone to feel like we're going to shutter it up or minimize the historical significance,” Bruce Neumann told the AP. “We appreciate curiosity in the home. We just need to balance the reality that it's going to be our family home.”
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Ernest Hemingway's boyhood home in Oak Park, Ill. Credit: Baird & Warner Real Estate