Travel

Florida homes of the rich and famous

Visitors to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Visitors to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum stroll toward the entrance in Key West, Fla., shortly after a ceremony was staged designating the site a Literary Landmark. The designation was given by a division of the American Library Association. Hemingway lived in the house from 1931 through 1939 and wrote many of his manuscripts in the property's second-story writing studio. The Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning author owned the property until his death in 1961. (March 14, 2010) Photo Credit: AP File

Ever wonder how the rich and famous live? You can see for yourself at the Florida homes of some famous former residents that are now open to the public. Among them are the onetime residences of inventor Thomas Edison, carmaker Henry Ford, author Ernest Hemingway and circus magnate John Ringling. Many of these homes, as one would expect, are elegant mansions with 50-plus rooms that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But, surprisingly, a few are relatively modest -- one actually did not even have a bathroom at first. Nine of the following 10 residences are open for tours -- to see the last, the former Casa Casuarina estate where fashion designer Gianni Versace lived, you'll have to take a meal or afternoon tea in the dining room or splurge for an overnight stay in what's become a luxury boutique hotel in South Beach.

The Edison and Ford winter estates in Fort
Photo Credit: Lee County VCB

The Edison and Ford winter estates in Fort Myers, Fla., are two adjacent homes, one belonging to inventor Thomas A. Edison and the other to automaker Henry Ford. Edison conducted numerous experiments inside his house, and there is also a museum highlighting many of his inventions. Here is the Botanic Research Laboratory on the Edison Estate, which visitors can tour daily.

Villa by Barton G was once Casa Casuarina,
Photo Credit: Domino Arts

Villa by Barton G was once Casa Casuarina, formerly the home of Gianni Versace, and before that the Amsterdam Palace. Today, the Miami Beach mansion is a luxury boutique hotel with a restaurant that's open to the public. Here, a view of the Thousand Mosaic Pool, lined with 24-carat gold mosaics.

The Villa by Barton G's rooftop overlooks the
Photo Credit: Domino Arts

The Villa by Barton G's rooftop overlooks the ocean and beach in Miami Beach. The mansion was once Casa Casuarina, the home of Gianni Versace, and before that, the Amsterdam Palace. Today the Miami Beach mansion is a luxury boutique hotel with a restaurant that's open to the public.

The Casements in Ormond Beach, Fla., was the
Photo Credit: Vanabode.com

The Casements in Ormond Beach, Fla., was the modest home of oil pioneer John D. Rockefeller Sr., who bought it in 1918 and spent his winters there until his death in 1937. In 1973, it was purchased by Ormond Beach, then restored and converted into a cultural center. Guests can tour the house Monday through Saturday.

The Deering Estate at Cutler was built by
Photo Credit: Brian F. Call

The Deering Estate at Cutler was built by Charles Deering, brother of industrialist James Deering (who built Vizcaya), and is on 444 acres in Palmetto Bay south of Miami. It is open for guided tours.

A dish of striped bass is served in
Photo Credit: Simon Hare, 2010

A dish of striped bass is served in the restaurant at Villa by Barton G in Miami Beach. The boutique hotel was once Casa Casuarina, the home of Gianni Versace, and before that, the Amsterdam Palace.

The Thousand Mosaic Pool is lined with 24-carat
Photo Credit: Domino Arts

The Thousand Mosaic Pool is lined with 24-carat gold mosaics at Villa by Barton G in Miami Beach. The luxury boutique hotel was once Casa Casuarina, the home of Gianni Versace, and before that the Amsterdam Palace. Today, the Miami Beach mansion is a luxury boutique hotel with a restaurant that's open to the public.

Villa by Barton G was once Casa Casuarina,
Photo Credit: Domino Arts

Villa by Barton G was once Casa Casuarina, the home of Gianni Versace, and before that, the Amsterdam Palace. Today, the Miami Beach mansion is a luxury boutique with a public restaurant. Here, a view of the courtyard.

Visitors to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Photo Credit: AP File

Visitors to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum stroll toward the entrance in Key West, Fla., shortly after a ceremony was staged designating the site a Literary Landmark. The designation was given by a division of the American Library Association. Hemingway lived in the house from 1931 through 1939 and wrote many of his manuscripts in the property's second-story writing studio. The Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning author owned the property until his death in 1961. (March 14, 2010)

The Cross Creek, Fla., farmhouse of Pulitzer prize-winning
Photo Credit: AP File

The Cross Creek, Fla., farmhouse of Pulitzer prize-winning writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is now a historic landmark operated by the Florida state park system. The house was built between 1880 and 1925 of cypress and heart pine wood, in Florida "cracker" style, and is central to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park. (Oct. 6, 2002)

This old-fashioned kitchen, with its wood-burning stove, was
Photo Credit: AP File

This old-fashioned kitchen, with its wood-burning stove, was used by writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, an enthusiastic cook, and is on view at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, Cross Creek, Fla. Recipes in Rawlings' cookbook, "Cross Creek Cookery," are based on what Rawlings cooked on this stove, now part of a historic landmark. (Oct. 6, 2002)

Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, built in 1927
Photo Credit: Getty Images File

Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, built in 1927 and once the home of Marjorie Merriwether Post, was bought by Donald Trump in 1985. Trump used the mansion as a residence until 1995, when he converted it into the private Mar-a-Lago Club. Membership is $275,000. (Nov. 12, 2005)

The Deering Estate at Cutler was built by
Photo Credit: Brian F. Call

The Deering Estate at Cutler was built by Charles Deering, brother of industrialist James Deering (who built Vizcaya). It is on 444 acres in Palmetto Bay south of Miami and is open for guided tours.

Visitors tour the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Photo Credit: AP File

Visitors tour the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Fla. (Aug. 19, 2008)

The six-toed cats walk on the grounds at
Photo Credit: Visit Florida

The six-toed cats walk on the grounds at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Fla.

Visitors enter the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Photo Credit: AP File

Visitors enter the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Fla. Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West throughout the 1930s. (Sept. 11, 2008)

The Harry S Truman Little White House and
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch / KRT

The Harry S Truman Little White House and Museum in Key West is where President Truman composed the letter firing Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Korean conflict, according to general manager Bob Wolz. During his years as president, 1945-1953, Truman spent many vacations here. (Jan. 22, 2006)

The Harry S Truman Little White House in
Photo Credit: John W. Penney

The Harry S Truman Little White House in Key West, Fla., was used by President Truman many times and is still used by presidents and governmental officials. It's open for tours.

Vizcaya Gardens and the Italian Renaissance-inspired villa are
Photo Credit: AP, 2002

Vizcaya Gardens and the Italian Renaissance-inspired villa are seen from one of the many fountains on the estate in the Coconut Grove section of Miami. The villa was built in 1916 by the founder of International Harvester, James Deering, and served as his winter residence until his death. The property is now owned by Miami-Dade County.

Villa Vizcaya in Miami was built by the
Photo Credit: Bill Sumner

Villa Vizcaya in Miami was built by the industrialist James Deering in 1916, and he lived there until 1925. The building encompasses a medley of styles, from the Baroque and rococo to the Neoclassic. Here, a view of Biscayne Bay from James Deering's bathroom.

Villa Vizcaya in Miami was built by the
Photo Credit: Bill Sumner

Villa Vizcaya in Miami was built by the industrialist James Deering in 1916, and he lived there until 1925. The estate has been seen in many movies, among them "Any Given Sunday" and "Bad Boys 2." Here, a view of the library.

Villa Vizcaya in Miami was built by the
Photo Credit: Bill Sumner

Villa Vizcaya in Miami was built by the industrialist James Deering in 1916, and he lived there until 1925.The building encompasses a medley of styles from the Baroque and Rococo to the Neoclassic. Close to downtown Miami, the site is open for tours. Here is the ornate boat landing.

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