The home once shared by Great Gatsby writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, has been transported from the Jazz Age to the 21st century, as the house is now available on AirBnB for $150 a night.
Farong Zhu, a recent guest and a Chinese Fulbright scholar who translated Zelda’s novel, Save Me the Waltz says, “I tried to imagine how maybe Scott would tell a joke and Zelda would laugh. Everything was very beautiful. I was so excited to be close to the Fitzgeralds, I couldn’t sleep well the first night.”
The apartment, located above the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, was occupied by the Fitzgeralds from 1931 to 1932 and is the only location on the Southern Literary Trail available for lodging. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for travelers,” said trail director Sarah McCullough. “And of course it generates revenue,” which can often be an obstacle for historic landmarks.
Fitzgerald Museum director Sara Powell was initially worried that guests might be inspired to throw Gatsby-like shindigs, but it hasn’t been the case. “Most of the people who would want to stay there probably have a great love for the writer and the writer’s work and would have great respect for the property,” McCullough said.
The home, which was built in 1910 in the historic Old Cloverdale neighborhood, is casually decorated with mid-century flair, and features a sofa, armchairs, decorative lamps, an Oriental rug, and pillows comically embroidered with Zelda’s quotes, such as, “Those men think I’m purely decorative and they’re fools for not knowing better.” The apartment features two bedrooms, a kitchen and Wi-Fi, but it is the ambience that is worth the price of admission. Guests will find a turntable and jazz records, as well as a balcony and magnolia trees in the yard.
“It’s hard for writers to be disconnected from their own world, even for a second,” Powell said. “We’ve had people tell us it was so good to be up there, even for a couple of days. You do unplug and get out of your headspace.”
Though the couple only lived in the apartment for a short time, their history is closely tied to Montgomery. Zelda was born in the city and the pair first met at a local country club in 1918, when she was a debutante and he was at a nearby military base.
In Montgomery, Fitzgerald wrote Tender Is the Night and Zelda finished Save Me the Waltz, her only novel. Fitzgerald, who battled alcohol abuse died at 44, while Zelda, who suffered from mental illness, passed away at 47 in a hospital fire.
Montgomery was a key player in the civil rights movement, as it propelled, following Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat to a white man, Martin Luther King, Jr., a 25 year-old pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, to the forefront of the fight for equality. The city recently inaugurated a memorial to lynching victims and The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration.
Katherine Malone-France, vice president at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, says Airbnb rentals are a great way to keep writer’s residences “financially sustainable and culturally sustainable” while remaining “respectful and relevant to their pasts.”
“That is the best way to preserve something: To use it,” she added.