Friday, May 17, 2019

History, Opulence and Awe at Glensheen in Duluth, Minnesota

History, Opulence and Awe at Glensheen in Duluth, Minnesota

History, Opulence and Awe at Glensheen in Duluth, Minnesota

**Disclosure: I did receive complimentary admission to Glensheen and the Great Lakes Aquarium in partnership with Visit Duluth in order to bring you detailed reviews. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

Glensheen stands magnificently perched up above Lake Superior in Duluth. Constructed in 1905-1906, Glensheen was home to Chester Congdon who was a teacher turned lawyer that amassed great wealth in iron mining and banking. Upon entering the grand estate, a sense of awe quickly descended upon us as we measured the incredible landscape and architecture and were engulfed by the treasures of Congdon's wealth. Early one morning, we embarked on the General Tour which was a self-guided tour of 3 floors of the home.

Walking into the stables at Glensheen in Duluth, Minnesota
Walking into the stables at Glensheen.
Entering a Truly Incredible Historic Estate:

To start the tour, we began in the stables and received a bit of an orientation. We also received our calling cards to enter the mansion which was a nice touch! I was actually pretty impressed by how the stables were presented. I have been to historic homes in the past where they were more of an after thought.

Impressive and formal entrance to Glensheen!
Impressive and formal entrance to Glensheen!
Next, we walked to the mansion pausing a bit to enjoy some of the landscape on the way in. Once being "received" after knocking on the door, we stood in awe of the grand entry way with decadent wooden panels, brass fixtures and gorgeous stained glass windows:

Awestruck by the artistry of the entrance inside Glensheen in Duluth, Minnesota
Awestruck by the artistry of the entrance.
The stained glass masterfully crafted by Linden Art Glass Company of Chicago certainly enchants:

Enchanting Linden Glass Art windows throughout Glensheen
Enchanting Linden Glass Art windows throughout Glensheen


Admiring the Details Big and Small:

The entire mansion is stunning and you will definitely spend quite some time wandering, admiring and learning. One of my favorite rooms was the library where you can see a copy of Peter Paul Ruben's David painted by Mrs. Congdon.

The library with a mosaic fireplace and a painting by Mrs. Congdon above.
The library with a mosaic fireplace and a painting by Mrs. Congdon above.
Wander Through Incredible Bedrooms:

I really, really want you to visit Glensheen for yourself. So, I will not take you through each room. But, I want to give you an idea of how entirely intricate and put together each room is. You truly feel like you are walking throughout a home that is alive with the hustle bustle of the Congdon family, their guests and staff. Below is the master bedroom. As you can see, details to observe everywhere. I cannot express how incredibly impressive it is to walk through this home as if you are one of the occupants!


One of our favorite rooms was Marjorie Congdon Dudley's room. Marjorie was one of Chester and Clara's daughters who became a well-regarded philanthropist. She and her husband, mining engineer Harry Dudley, built a mansion 3 blocks from Glensheen. In this room you see one of our favorite pieces -- a bookshelf that turns!

Marjorie's Room inside Glensheen features a bookshelf that turns!
Have a seat and enjoy a book!
I LOVED Helen's Room! Can you just imagine living with these airy windows? Plus, the floral mosaic tiles of the fireplaces are stunning! Helen was the Congdon's middle daughter and an activist on children's issues and human rights.

Helen's Room at Glensheen features airy windows and a mosaic fire place.
What a view and nice spot to sit for awhile!
Beginning the Day in a Stunning Setting:

My favorite room in the house was the Breakfast Room! Once again, we see the stunning Linden Art Glass Company stained glass windows this time accompanied by emerald Rookwood Pottery tiles!

Magical breakfast room featuring Rookwood pottery tiles and Linden Art Glass windows at Glensheen in Duluth, Minnesota
Magical breakfast room would have provide such a perfect start to the day!
Interesting Elements:

Throughout the home, we discovered interesting elements. So, definitely pause and look around each room. We LOVED the intercom used to call house staff.

Intercom system throughout the house for communicating with staff.
Intercom system throughout the house for communicating with staff.
Another beloved detail -- a cookie cutter that cuts 12 cookies at once for the 12 Days of Christmas! I need one!


Who wouldn't pause at the dining room chandelier? The chandelier was considered the Maid's Nightmare because it took so long to clean!

Opulent chandelier at Glensheen

Peeking inside the laundry room was certainly interesting as well! I think this is the first I have seen a sliding clothes rack with drying chamber. The massive gas mangle press was fabricated in Chicago.

Sliding clothes rack and drying chamber as well as gas mangle press in the laundry room at Glensheen
Sliding clothes rack and drying chamber as well as gas mangle press in the laundry room.
Billiards Room and Rec Area:

Glensheen has an incredible Billiards Room and Rec Area! The billiards table actually could double as another table for functions. Next to the Billiards Room is a Winter Garden which would have been kept warm for plants in the winter. There is also a large recreational room as well.

Well crafted billiards table that doubled as a regulare table for gatherings at Glensheen
Well crafted billiards table that doubled as a regulare table for gatherings.
Nature at Glensheen:

Chester Congdon certainly choose a magnificent location for Glensheen along Tischer Creek on Lake Superior.

Picture perfect foot bridge sets a tranquil scene at Glensheen
Picture perfect foot bridge sets a tranquil scene.

Of course, we enjoyed the Lake Superior views:



Still Dreaming of Glensheen:

Strolling through Glensheen, we thoroughly engaged in learning about the Congdon family and the early 20th century. There is so much to see, I can understand why people purchase annual memberships! The mansion includes 39 rooms and various tours reveal different sections. The luxuriousness of the interior sweeps you away while still not being too ostentatious. The mansion brings alive the Gilded Age and you really feel part of the magic. There are many stories to unfold and many details to explore at Glensheen. I look forward to returning to learn more and revisit favorites!

More About Visiting Glensheen:
  • Glensheen has a variety of tour options open including the General which we took -- Full Mansion, Flashlight for those 21+ at night with  a pint, a kayak tour in the summer, Candlelight Christmas and more.
  • You can download an app for your phone with more details as you tour. 
  • To purchase tickets, I recommend online ahead of time because during busy season they do sell out.
  • Glensheen rests on 12-acres which you are welcome to explore.
  • You are welcome to enjoy a picnic on Glensheen grounds after your tour.
  • The gift shop does have many locally made items.
  • There was a tragedy that did occur at Glensheen in 1977 but it is not the focus of any tours.
History, Opulence and Awe at Glensheen: An Early 20th Century Mansion in  Duluth, Minnesota

4 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful gem in Duluth! I will have to visit the next time I am there.

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    1. It is stunning! My husband normally isn't interested on house tours but was totally intrigued on this one.

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  2. What a stunning property! I haven't been to duluth in years and now I want to get back with a must-see of this place!

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    1. It is amazing! Definitely one of the best houses I have toured. They have many different tour options to choose from which is really neat!

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