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Thursday, July 2, 2015


While there are many amazing sites to see on a visit to Duluth, MN, the one site not to be missed is Glensheen Mansion.  Glensheen was the home of Duluth’s preeminent citizen, Chester Congdon, his wife Clara, and their children, and was a testament to the success and wealth acquired by Congdon over the years.  (In my previous post I gave a brief introduction to the family and their home.)

The Congdons didn't believe in hospitals, so their home included an infirmary 
on the third floor which doubled as a guest room when no one was sick.

All of the Congdon sons attended Yale, and so its insignia was sewn onto their bedding.

Bedrooms for the male family members were all on the third floor.

If the beds seem small, it's because each was custom made to fit the 
proportion of its user, rather than being a standard size.

At the turn of the last century, Duluth had a soaring population of over 100,000 residents, and also had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the country.  Wealthy individuals realized that their untaxed income stretched farther in this northern city, and they built lavish homes and lifestyles to reflect that.  Glensheen was the crown jewel of these homes.

The married couple's bedroom was also on the third floor.

The maids felt the man in this painting was staring at them inappropriately, 
so they would cover it when they cleaned the room.

The trunk room.

The kitchen area was a wonderful workspace.

This is a photo of the original stove that was in the home.

The butler was always perfectly dressed.

The estate rests on the shore of Lake Superior and was designed to have two entrances.  The entrance at the front of the house, greeted guests who would arrive by carriages, and later on, by automobiles, while the back entrance allowed guests to arrive by the lake.  Guests would tie their boats at the boathouse pier, and then make their way the through the terraced formal garden to the back door.  Both entrances were of equal importance when entertaining.

The stained glass windows in the breakfast room were designed 
to make you feel like you were dining under a huge oak tree.

The lovely dining room chandelier.

The laundry room was located in the basement.

One of the features of the home that I was most impressed with was its framework.  Congdon was from the east coast, known for its hurricanes, while his wife was from San Francisco, known for the occasional earth quake.  As the two were planning their home, it was important to design a home that could withstand the elements.  With this in mind, rather than wood, Glensheen’s framework is made from iron beams – not really surprising since Congdon’s fortune was made in iron ore.

The terraced formal garden.

As our tour was ending, the staff was setting up chairs for a wedding in the garden.

One of the formal garden staircases.

The beautiful fountain in the formal garden.

Over the past century, water, sunlight and humans have wreaked havoc on the interior of this beautiful home, making restoration a long slow process, but through it all, the grandeur of this magnificent estate shines through.  Glensheen is a must see attraction on any visit to Duluth, and was truly the highlight of my time there.

(Andrew Ramirez contributed photos to this post)

***What are some of your favorite estates to visit?

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