U.S. sanctions against Cuba are hindering efforts to restore Ernest Hemingway’s home there, The Guardian reports. His Cuban estate, known as Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm), is already a museum that has been partially restored with help from Hemingway fans in the U.S., but politics are once again obstructing progress on the project.
The granddaughter of Hemingway’s editor Max Perkins set up a preservation fund after visiting the house in 2001 and being shocked by its state of disrepair. In 2005, the U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation named the home as one of its most endangered places, the first time it ever listed a site outside the U.S. The roof was reported to be sagging and close to collapse, and there was mould on the walls.
The Bush administration blocked direct financial aid, but issued a licence that allowed a visit to the island by US architects and construction specialists paid for by Hemingway devotees. With their help, the Cuban government went ahead with the project, and renovation of most of the house was completed in February.
But much of the rest of the estate remains in disrepair. An impressive tower next to the house is closed, Hemingway’s fishing boat is shrouded in scaffolding, and red tiles are sliding off the roof of the termite-infested guesthouse. More importantly, the original manuscripts and books, which contain thousands of Hemingway’s notes, are still at risk. The US government has blocked not only the money needed but specialist equipment such as dehumidifiers and scanning equipment.
The licence that allowed the initial restoration expired in 2007, so work on the project has stopped. The Hemingway Preservation Foundation and the National Trust are preparing a new expanded request.