The Queen Anne home with the grand front porch at 339 N. Oak Park Avenue built in 1890 would be a historic gem of Oak Park on its own, but it has become a destination, receiving travelers from all over the world. The birth of Ernest Hemingway in a second story bedroom in 1899 catapulted this home to landmark and destination status.
Built by Hemingway’s maternal grandparents, it is reported to be the first home in Oak Park to have electricity. And while the house had been in private hands for nearly a century, and at one time converted into apartments, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park acquired and restored the home to its original glory in the 1990’s and it is now open to the public. Thanks to Hemingway’s mother Grace, who kept meticulous records of the family’s possessions, the house is extremely authentic to the time of Hemingway’s birth.
While the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum may be famous for the author, it is really a museum about his full family. Since three generations of his family lived in the house at the same time, the museum shows how his roots in Oak Park and his early years in the house shaped his life and helped lead to the man who is considered “One of the best story tellers in the world.” From the parlor where his mother gave music lessons, performed opera and taught him to sing to a house filled with wildlife specimens his physician father, an avid outdoors man, loved to collect are all preserved here to tell the story of Ernest Hemmingway.
The museum hosts “Friday@Hemingway’s” the third Friday of each month from April to November. These evening social events can include live music, poetry readings, author book launches and more. For regular tours of the home, they are open Wednesday through Friday 1pm to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 1pm to 5pm.