Ernest Hemingway Birthplace

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Oak Park's Nobel Prize-winning literary son and his work are intelligently illuminated by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation, which has assembled Hemingway history in photos, documents, videos and other media for the museum at 200 N. Oak Park Ave. and the birthplace-home, which is a block north. The writer's first 20 years are intensively chronicled -- a period when the blunt writer supposedly grew to view Oak Park as a place of "wide lawns and narrow minds," an irresistible epithet that local people claim the author never said. No matter -- the odyssey of one of the 20th Century's most powerful literary personalities most certainly starts in Oak Park, which launched him on a career that included two major wars, several minor ones and the development of many great fictional characters. Exhibits in the museum include a section called "Hemingway and the Movies," with posters and other silver-screen images of Hemingway novels and stories. Another section chronicles Hemingway's "last war," his coverage of World War II. The home, where Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 and spent his formative years, is a grand Queen Anne Victorian built by his grandparents. It presently is undergoing restoration/renovation, and that process -- as well as the family's story, as related by well-trained docents -- makes this a fascinating experience.