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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Old Illinois Houses

John Drury

reprinted by
The University of Chicago Press
Chicago and London, 1977

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

[image ALT: A photograph of a two‑story wood frame house, with a corner tower with a conical roof. It is the Ernest Hemingway House in Oak Park, Illinois.]

Chicago Daily News

Ernest Hemingway House, Oak Park, Built 1890.

 p201  Birthplace of a Novelist

In the opinion of many literary critics, Ernest Hemingway is among the foremost American writers of our time. They claim he will occupy a permanent place in American literature. If this is the case, it follows that the house in which Hemingway was born and where he spent his early childhood should be of interest to many people, and especially to devotees of his writings. That house still stands. It is one of the older dwellings of Oak Park, well-to‑do village on the western border of Chicago.

The Hemingway home is located at 339 North Oak Park Avenue. Here Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1898. And here he spent the first six years of his life. When he was six years old, his parents  p202 moved to another house near by, at 600 North Kenilworth Avenue, and it was in this dwelling that the future novelist grew to maturity. After graduating from Oak Park High School, young Hemingway left Oak Park and went out into the world to achieve fame as a writer.

The house in which he was born was built in 1890. It is a typical middle-class Queen Anne dwelling of the later Victorian era. Of frame construction and two stories high, it is marked by a corner tower with a conical roof. Originally, there was an open porch at the front, but this has been replaced by an inclosed porch. Several big trees planted by Ernest Hemingway's father shade the house in summer. On the inside, the rooms are large and comfortable and fireplaces warm some of them. The novelist was born in the south bedroom on the second floor.

His parents were both well-known Oak Parkers. His father was the late Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, who had practiced medicine in the Chicago suburb for almost half a century. Dr. Hemingway's father, Anson Tyler Hemingway, was a pioneer real-estate man of Chicago, having settled there after having served in the Civil War. The novelist's mother, Mrs. Grace Hall Hemingway, in her earlier years was a musician and vocal teacher and later became a painter. Many of her oils and water colors have been exhibited in Chicago.

The house in which the author of For Whom the Bell Tolls and other novels spent his earliest years was built by Mrs. Hemingway's father, Ernest Hall, who, with his brother-in‑law, William L. Randall, conducted a wholesale cutlery house in Chicago — the second such firm to be established in the city. In the late 1880's Hall moved to Oak Park and, after having lived in a rented house, built the Oak Park Avenue abode.

Early in life Ernest Hemingway discovered the world of literature in the library of his grandfather's house. And not far from his house he discovered the delights of the outdoor life, of fishing and hiking and hunting. We are told that his father was fond of the outdoors and took Ernest on many hikes along the Des Plaines River and through Thatcher's Woods, pointing out birds, flowers, and trees to the youngster.

It was from the house on Oak Park Avenue that Ernest Hemingway first went to school. His mother took him to a private kindergarten conducted by Mrs. Helen Thane Raymond and here the future author learned to read and write. Much of his early education, of course, came from his parents, both of whom encouraged his interest in the world of books, art, and music.

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Page updated: 11 Dec 07