Glensheen Historic Estate

Food & Drink, Historical & Museum / Friday, December 18th, 2015

Up next on the #mnbucketlist is the historic Glensheen Mansion along London Road in Duluth. The former home to Chester Congdon, who was once wealthiest man in Duluth. He started a school teacher in Wisconsin and eventually became the wealthiest Minnesotan. He chose the name Glensheen, meaning “shining glen”, and was named for Chester’s family home in Surrey, England. The mansion was built in a Jacobean Revival style beginning in 1905 and was completed in 1908, designed by architect Clarence H Johnston Sr. It has 39 rooms; 15 bedrooms and 15 fireplaces. It was the first home in the area to have electricity and running hot water. There is also the carriage house, gardener’s cottage, servants’ quarters, many winding paths, and gardens that look very much the same as they did in the early 1900’s. A concrete and wood boathouse sits along the shore of Lake Superior. I highly recommend getting the extended tour – its the only way to get the full experience. Also, see the grounds. A personal favorite of mine is Tischer Creek and the Scandia Cemetery next door.

The Glensheen is also home of the infamous Congdon Murders. The final resident of the home was Elisabeth Manning Congdon, who had inherited the family fortune. On June 27, 1977, Elisabeth and her nurse Velma Pietila were found murdered – I won’t go into any detail. In 1968, the Glensheen was willed by the family to the University of Minnesota and currently its students give tours (and they do such a great job, really knowledgeable) . It first opened for tours in the summer of 1979, and has been a main tourist attraction ever since. While tour guides are no longer prohibited from talking about the murders, they generally don’t out of respect for the Congdon family. A little known fact; a movie was filmed in and around the Glensheen Mansion in 1972. It starred Patty Duke, and was titled “You’ll Like My Mother”, a psychological thriller. It seems a bit eerie since it was filmed before the murders. Also, in 2015, a musical based on the murders titled Glensheen was created by Jeffrey Hatcher and Chan Poling.

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