The Tennessee Williams Exhibit is located at 513 Truman Avenue, just off of Duval Street. At first I thought this house was where Tennessee Williams lived, but sadly it is not. This home was a private home and has kept much of its original floor plan and woodwork. It was originally built in 1884 and has a very wide porch and simple architectural details. It was a private residence until 1986. Now it is home to this wonderful exhibit about Tennessee Williams and his life and work in Key West.
If you are a fan of his works, this is a must do while in town. A volunteer guide will give you a tour of the items and will answer all of your questions.
This home was originally on the edge of town. Today it is located at the center of the Key West Historic District. Originally, the street this home sat on was called Division Street because it was the official division between the developed portion of the Island and the pristine undeveloped portions.
By the 1900’s development began to cross over Division Street. Tennessee Williams was living in Key West when Division Street was renamed Truman Avenue – in honor of President Truman. We know that President Truman spent so much time in Key West that his vacation home was renamed the Little White House.
The purpose of the Tennessee Williams Exhibit is to keep alive the legacy of the famous playwright who lived and worked in Key West from 1949 to his death in 1983. Key West and the Florida Keys are known as a cultural and historical location due to the increases in artists, writers, entertainment icons and intellectuals who flocked here during the 1940’s.
In 2013 a not-for-profit organization established the Tennessee Williams Exhibit.
Inside this home, you will find items about him and his life. Interesting to see is one of the typewriters he used in Key West. Also, check out his paintings. He was known for his “hostess gift” paintings.
Every March, Key West celebrates Tennessee Williams’ birthday. There are contests, plays a his playhouse and various other fun activities. If you are a lover of his work, plan to attend some of these events during March.
Tennessee Williams began to vacation in Key West in 1941 and often stayed at the La Concha Hotel. It is thought that he finished A Street Car Named Desire while staying at the La Concha in 1947.
He became a resident of Key West when he purchased a home on Duncan Street. He lived there until his death in 1983. That home is privately owned and not open to the public.
Tennessee Williams won two Pulitzer prizes while living in Key West. One for A Street Car Named Desire and one for A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
He also oversaw the filming of The Rose Tattoo in Key West in the early 1950’s. The movie’s premier in Key West was held at the San Carlos Institute. The movie was based on the Tony award winning Broadway play.