Hemingway's Ketchum home listed in the National Register

Listing comes with "national significance" designation

Ketchum, Idaho | August 11, 2015

Editor's note: The Hemingway home is preserved as a nature preserve and is not open to the public.

The Idaho home of famous American author Ernest Hemingway and wife Mary Hemingway was recently listed with "national significance" in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Hemingways relocated from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho, and purchased the 14-acre property and residence in 1959. They owned the house briefly before Ernest Hemingway's tragic death by suicide in 1961. Mary kept the home for about 25 years after Ernest's death. She traveled between the home and New York, visiting in the fall and summer until ill health forced her permanent move to New York. She died in 1986.

Mary Hemingway bequeathed the home to The Nature Conservancy in Idaho, which continues to own and manage the property. Mary had become familiar with the Conservancy's successful conservation of Silver Creek Preserve, a place that Ernest and eldest son, Jack Hemingway, hunted and fished. It was Jack Hemingway, a former commissioner for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, who urged the Conservancy to purchase and protect the unique spring creek in 1975.

"The Hemingway Home and Preserve includes one of the largest undeveloped reaches along the Big Wood River in the city of Ketchum. It is a beautiful reflection of the Hemingway family's love of nature and Idaho, and we have had the honor and privilege of caring for it for almost 30 years," says Lou Lunte, deputy state director for the Conservancy. "Recognizing the home and surrounding area as a place of historical significance was an important step in ensuring both the home and property continued to be cared for properly into the future." 

Listing in the National Register of Historic Places provides formal recognition of a property’s historical significance based on national standards; and makes such properties eligible for preservation incentives, such as federal grants for planning and rehabilitation.

As part of future plans for the home, the Conservancy is collaborating with The Community Library in Ketchum to link Hemingway-related sites and stories throughout the Wood River Valley. The Hemingway Legacy Initiative will highlight the literary contributions that complement the spectacular natural landscape of central Idaho, including a possible writer-in-residence program at the house. Planned, low-impact activities for the home will adhere to residential zoning regulations.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy on the Hemingway Legacy Initiative because it aligns beautifully with The Community Library’s work to promote literature and to preserve regional history,” says Jenny Emery Davidson, executive director of The Community Library. “By focusing on Hemingway’s time in Idaho, we gain insights into both a literary giant and also a small central Idaho community. Both have fascinating layers of stories to offer, and the Library wants to help share those stories.”

The Library already is entwined with Hemingway’s legacy. Ernest and Mary Hemingway were founding members of The Community Library, which opened its doors as a privately funded public library in 1955. After Ernest’s death, several Library board members at that time helped to inventory the house, at Mary’s request. Today, the Library holds a strong Hemingway collection, oral histories by locals who knew Hemingway, original correspondence from Hemingway to Sun Valley locals, signed first edition books, and other materials, many of which are on display at the Library’s Sun Valley Museum of History.

The Community Library brings information, ideas, and individuals together to enhance the cultural life of the community. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Lou Lunte
The Nature Conservancy in Idaho


Jenny Emery Davidson
The Community Library of Ketchum
208.726.7355208.726.7355 x 101



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