The house was built in 1886 by Catalan architect Miguel Pascual y Baguer on a hill about fifteen miles east of Havana. From the back veranda and the adjacent tower one has an excellent view of downtown Havana.
Hemingway lived in the house from mid 1939 to 1960, renting it at first, and then buying it in December 1940 after he married his third wife Martha Gellhorn.
Hemingway paid $12,500 for the property. It was located for Hemingway by Gellhorn, who had come to Cuba to be with Hemingway but decided she did not want to live in the small room he rented at the Hotel Ambos Mundos. The Finca at the time consisted of 15 acres (61,000 m2) with a farmhouse.
It was at Finca Vigía that he wrote much of For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway would later buy the property out of some of the first royalties from the book, published in 1940.
When Hemingway and Gellhorn were divorced in 1945, Hemingway kept Finca Vigia and lived there during the winters with his last wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway.
At the Finca, Hemingway also wrote The Old Man and the Sea (1951) about a fisherman who lived in the nearby town of Cojimar and worked the waters off Havana.