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Hemingway home on to-save list

Maria Puente USA Today

Ernest Hemingway’s house in Cuba is falling apart, prompting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to mount a rescue campaign that has the U.S. government’s OK, despite the 44-year economic embargo against the island nation.

Finca Vigia outside Havana is the house where Hemingway lived from 1939 to 1960 and wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea.”

The trust placed the 119-year-old home on its list of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places on Thursday. It’s the first time in the list’s history that a site outside U.S. borders is included.

Trust officials say their campaign transcends the enmity between the U.S. government and Cuban President Fidel Castro. “This has nothing to do with politics,” says Richard Moe, president of the trust, chartered by Congress in 1949 but privately funded. “It’s a very important part of our shared heritage with the Cubans.”

In a letter signed by 60 writers and historians, including John Irving, Salman Rushdie and Ken Burns, the Finca was compared to the preserved homes of Mark Twain in Hartford, Conn., and William Faulkner in Oxford, Miss. The trust says Finca is a “preservation emergency” with a leaky roof, shifting foundation and a bedroom ceiling near collapse.

Hemingway committed suicide in 1961, months after the failed U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion to topple Castro. His widow, Mary, gave the house to the Cuban people. The same year, the United States instituted the embargo.

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