Open the beautiful front double doors and step into the entry hall. It is large and inviting, and leads to the parlor to the left, the library straight ahead, and the stairs to second floor. Marcelline Hemingway (Ernest's sister) has indicated that there was another small room, in between the first and second floors that served as a room for her father to see his medical patients, which we are still in the process of uncovering.
This formal, masculine room can be accessed from the entry hall and parlour. The library served at least two purposes. First, it became a retreat for Grandfather Hall when he wished to have an after dinner smoke or a drink with men folk without upsetting his daughter and son-in-law. It also served as the main repository of books for this family of avid readers.
PARLOUR / LIVING ROOM
Enter the parlour and you can see the functionality and beauty of this room. The inviting fireplace is set off by flowered carpet that was typical of the time, pink and green wall covering, and genuine Notthingham lace curtains, similar to those that hung in the windows over 100 years ago. The white plaster cornice at the ceiling is original to the home, and its rose relief pattern is reflected in the carpet. This space served as a music, prayer and study room, as well as a general gathering area for the entire family.
Large oak double pocket doors lead to the dining room. The rose relief pattern in the white plaster cornice that you saw in the living room / parlour is also original to this room. Marcelline tells us that on a typical morning, Dr. and Mrs. Hemingway would have their breakfast and then leave the room to Grandfather Hall and the children. After finishing his breakfast and morning newspaper, Grandfather Hall (affectionately called Abba, the Biblical name for grandfather) would proceed to entertain his grandchildren with stories recalled from his childhood and stories featuring animal characters.
The kitchen is most noteworthy for the fact that Grace Hemingway seldom appeared here. She had been taught by her mother to be a professional woman, one who could afford to hire others to do the cooking, laundry, house cleaning, baby sitting, and other household chores. Many of the maids who were skilled in the kitchen were also voice and music students of Grace's. They utilized the back staircase off of the kitchen.
The second floor hallway runs the length of the home and leads to six bedrooms and one bathroom, and an entrance to the attic.
Ernest and Marcelline slept here in matching white cribs, which are represented here. The room was tidy and decorated for the children. The toy box on the floor belonged to Marcelline. The nursery was connected to Grace Hemingway's bedroom.
This may be the most accurate restoration in the entire house because a remnant of the original wallpaper was found in the closet, enabling us know the color as well as the pattern. Mrs. Hemingway occupied this room and it was here that the first four of her six children were born, delivered by Dr. Hemingway.
DR. HEMINGWAY'S ROOM
It had been the Victorian custom for Ernest Hall and his wife Caroline to occupy separate bedrooms. Dr. Ed and Grace did the same. It was also a convenience given their frequent need to be up at night. He often needed to see patients while she needed to look after the children. The room faces East, and Oak Park Avenue.
Abba occupied the turret bedroom, which faces Oak Park Avenue. At this time in his life Ernest Hall had retired as the co-owner of a successful cutlery business, a career parallel to that of his father back in Sheffield, England. Ernest Hall was also an investor in stocks and bonds. Mr. Hall died here in 1905 after suffering for several months from Bright's Disease, a kidney ailment.
As in many middle class households of the time, the cook and other household help lived with the family and descended to the kitchen and the basement or outdoor toilet facilities by a back stairway. In some cases, they were taught to be accomplished singers by Grace Hall Hemingway and gave the children an opportunity to converse with them in their foreign languages. The room is not carpeted and its decorations are very simple, frugal and plain.
UNCE TYLEY'S ROOM
Benjamin Tyley Hancock was the spirited middle aged bachelor brother of Carolyn Hall who lived with the family when he wasn't taking trips on business selling iron and brass beds for the prestigious Miller Hall Co. With great spirit at family gatherings, he challenged Ernest and everyone at games and lake. His room is at the back of the home, facing the yard.
The Hemingway Boyhood Home
When Abba died, the Hemingway family left the Oak Park Avenue home. Grace, along with architect Henry G. Fiddelke, designed and built a new family home at 600 North Kenilworth Avenue, where Ernest spent his high school years. This home, while owned by The Ernest Hemingway Foundation, is not yet open to the general public.