In 1939, after selling the film rights to his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway purchased Finca Vigía, a beautiful country property in Cuba. The rambling masonry home—which the author occupied on-and-off until 1960—sits perched on 12 acres of land in the hills outside Havana.
Several years ago, Finca Vigía was in danger of destruction—from heat, humidity, pests, and the sheer passage of time. At that point, an American non-profit that I co-chair, The Finca Vigía Foundation, joined the Cuban government in a successful effort to save the home from ruin. Today, the estate is an internationally recognized museum full of Hemingway’s belongings and his numerous, fascinating collections (guns, typewriters, fishing rods, paintings and, of course, books).
When a fan recently asked if it’s true that I was involved in the restoration, I responded using a fun, new online video platform, VYou. Watch:
The next phase of the project has already begun: It involves giving care and attention to over 9,000 books and documents that Hemingway left behind. This material is also being digitized and will one day become available to Hemingway buffs around the world. I was last in Cuba in 2010—I very much look forward to returning.
For more on historic homes and restorations, consider: