Preserving Ernest Hemingway’s Idaho home and stories in the heart of the American West

His History Here

Ernest Hemingway first visited central Idaho and the nascent Sun Valley resort in the fall of 1939. That first visit, he stayed for months, bird-hunting, fishing, canoeing, and writing For Whom the Bell Tolls.

He kept returning over the next two decades, forging lifelong friendships and an abiding connection to the Idaho landscape.

In 1959, he and Mary purchased a home along the Big Wood River. He wrote to a friend, “The new place we have in Ketchum is fireproof with dry climate and eventually hope to have all our pictures and manuscripts there.”

It was in this house that he ended his life in 1961, and he is buried nearby in the Ketchum cemetery. Mary Hemingway continued to use the home as a residence for the rest of her life, often holding parties at the home to honor Ernest’s birthday.


Upon her death in 1986, Mary bequeathed the house to The Nature Conservancy to be preserved as a “nature reference library.”

Over the next thirty years, The Nature Conservancy maintained the property and used the house for administrative purposes. The house
remained relatively unchanged from the period of the Hemingways’ ownership.

In 2014, The Nature Conservancy and The Community Library in Ketchum formed an alliance to develop a master plan for the preservation of the house and its associated artifacts and stories. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

In 2017, The Nature Conservancy gifted the house to The Community Library, whose mission is deeply aligned with the stewardship of Hemingway’s Idaho legacy.

Mission and Goals

The Community Library’s Hemingway Legacy Initiative aims to honor the life and work of Ernest Hemingway as well as Sun Valley’s regional history through preservation, educational outreach, and a new writer-in-residence program.


We will grow, preserve, and promote the collection of books, photographs, oral histories, artifacts, and ephemera that relate to Hemingway’s life as it intersects with the American West.

Educational Outreach

We will create multimedia educational materials to share artifacts and stories from Hemingway’s home and his time in Idaho with a broad audience, including schoolchildren and the general public.

Literary Residency

We will encourage creative work through a new writer-in-residence program that builds connections between the local community and the larger literary world.

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