11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Finca Vigía: Ernest Hemingway House

Year Listed: 2005
Location: San Franciso de Paula, Cuba
Threat: Deterioration


Built in 1886 on a hillside near Havana, Finca Vigía or "Lookout Farm" was Ernest Hemingway's home from 1939 to 1960, the period when he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea and the posthumously-published A Moveable Feast and Islands in the Stream. The house has long-chronicled Hemingway's life. For years, his personal belongings remained as he left them-even the penciled daily record of his weight and blood pressure is preserved on the bathroom wall. Yet, despite the best intentions of a diligent museum staff, structural problems and damage by the elements have caused the site to deteriorate so severely that experts now call it a "preservation emergency." The roof leaks, foundations are shifting, and the Nobel Prize-winning author's furnishings have been moved into storage for their protection. The National Trust and the Hemingway Preservation Foundation have assembled a team of architects and engineers who will leave for Cuba this summer to work with their Cuban counterparts to prepare an emergency stabilization and preservation plan for the property, and the U.S. Government has just granted a license permitting these activities. But these preliminary efforts will come to nothing unless significant funds can be raised and allowed to be used to restore the property. This landmark, a shared part of America's and Cuba's heritage, must not be left to crumble.