Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Donation to help preserve Ernest Hemingway?s home

Foundation dissolves with gift to The Nature Conservancy

Express Staff Writer

Express file photo The Nature Conservancy plans to restore the onetime Ketchum residence of Ernest Hemingway, above.

The Nature Conservancy will use a $26,200 gift from the Idaho Hemingway House Foundation for a restoration plan for the onetime Ketchum home of late author Ernest Hemingway. The 12 acres where the home is situated on East Canyon Run, the largest undeveloped parcel in the city of Ketchum, will become a nature preserve, said Matt Miller, director of communication for The Nature Conservancy in Idaho..

"We are in the process of restoring it to its historic condition," he said. "We are archiving all the items in the home."

Part of an agreement with neighbors will not allow the home or grounds to be open to the public but it will be made available to scholars, Miller said.

"The house has a lot of historic interest ... we feel it essential it be preserved as a historic facility," Miller said. The two-story home has had normal wear and tear and things like plumbing and electrical need repair, he said.

Hemingway purchased the home in 1959 for $50,000 from Dan Topping, the late part owner of the New York Yankees. Hemingway lived there intermittently until his death in 1961. His widow, Mary, lived there until her death in 1986. Hemingway died July 2, 1961, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the home. He was 61.

Mary Hemingway later bequeathed the house and surrounding property along the Big Wood River to The Nature Conservancy.

The home contains items from all four owners and the identification of those of historical and cultural interest is underway. It's hoped with the help of the Hemingway family and scholars that the process will be completed this year, Miller said.

The Nature Conservancy's mission is to protect wildlife and native plants. It is not a historical preservation organization but the organization realized the importance of guarding the home's historic values, a Nature Conservancy news release said.

The Idaho Hemingway House Foundation, which was formed to restore the house and possibly open it to the public, is being dissolved. It raised funds to restore the house but failed to gain city approval for a plan to grant limited public access to the site. TNC, which had planned to have the foundation manage the site, ultimately determined it would restore and maintain the house.

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