Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Be a tourist where you live: Glensheen Mansion

The nice thing about where I live is that it's kind of touristy, kind of not, but it has a lot of really neat things to do around here even if this is where you live. We sometimes take for granted all of the things we have available in our area. I know I live in Superior, WI and there is a lot of "Superior is awesome, too" folks and I'm just not one of them. Superior isn't bad, it's a good place to live and raise a family.

It's not a place that you think, "Man, I want to visit that place!". Duluth, MN is and if I had to pick which city to live in? I'd pick Superior. Which city to visit and hang out in? Duluth. Sorry,  not sorry.

One of the gems of Duluth is Glensheen Mansion. It's a 39 room mansion along London Road that belonged to Chester and Clara Congdon. Though they were a big deal in their own right, they were made famous by the 1977 murder of Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse. Anyways, it's a fascinating story of the family and the house and it's a popular stop in Duluth, even for people who live here, so if you're ever in the area, plan to visit because truly- it's something to see. The day we went there was set up of a wedding going on and honestly- I wish I had thought to get married there!
Right now though there is an exhibit called GOWNS and throughout the mansion they have various gowns belonging to the Congdon women and all are just unique and gorgeous and unlike anything we would see today. My friend Amy and I decided to make a day out of it and be tourists.
What was interesting was first, how sheer most of the dresses were. I don't know what they would have worn underneath them but for a time in history where women were more modest, I was surprised at how sheer everything was. 
I really loved this one, kind of flapper-esque to me. The beading on this one was so beautiful and they were the tiniest beads, I don't know how someone would have done that by hand. 
They had furs with some of them and the luxury of it was pretty wonderful and strange... I can't imagine wearing a dead animal around my neck. 
The mansion has quite a bit of stained glass and it was impossible to take pictures of all of it but it was all pretty. 
We only did the general admission tour so we didn't get to go to third level or beyond and didn't see all 39 rooms, but the ones we did were really amazing. Some of the bedrooms were huge and honestly I would give anything to have a room like them! So much sunlight, so much detail, it was super pretty. This was one of the children's rooms. 
I really liked looking at all of the old books throughout the mansion. On a side table they have these three on display. It's crazy to think about someone sat and read these books to children years ago. These books were memorable for someone. 
This was maybe my favorite room and I hate that I didn't take pictures of the light fixtures in here because they were these cute mint green ones that look completely different depending if the light was on or not. I wanted them. Where I would put them? I have no idea but I loved them. 
I loved this dress because it looked so fragile, like it might fall apart if you touched it. 
I didn't get a good picture of it, but the blue chair in the background? Want it. Loved it. 
In one of the kitchens they had this cookie cutter on display and it was just the coolest thing I've seen. It literally is one piece connected and it would cut out 12 different cookies at a time. Why isn't this kind of thing made anymore? This would be SO EASY. 
My second favorite room was The Breakfast Room. I can't even understand the opulence of living a life that allows you to have a room with a sole purpose of breakfast. Other meals are in other rooms but for breakfast we come here and we look out onto gardens and greenery. Unbelievable. The tiles in here (floors and walls) cost about $5-7 per tile back then whereas in today's standards it's $125-150 per tile. It said that each tile had it's own serial number so in the event you had to replace one, you could replace it exactly. 
Of course there was a formal dining room and it had this fairly large chandelier. Before we left the room we saw the plaque that mentioned it. 
Hard pass on that. We heard someone say it was cleaned three times a year but still. No thanks. 
I thought this was the most interesting dress of all. First off, it was short. I'm 5'3 and I think it would be short on me by an inch or so. Second, look at how TINY it is. The waist, the arms, the NECK! I can't imagine how slight the Congdon women must have been. 
Thankfully it was a really nice day so we got to go out into the gardens and around some of the outdoor space. 
I can imagine back then this must have been amazing because some of the paths have been overgrown and not used but back then it must have felt adventurous to have all of this as your backyard basically. 
A little information about Lake Superior and how we're the best lake. Come visit. 
The views around the estate make you forget that you're basically in the middle of the city of Duluth. 
Oh so this was on the news not too long ago that they found this diving bell in the lake and they brought it up and it was a big deal. I had no idea why it was a big deal. Apparently they would get in so they could work under water. Why the Congdon's would have had this? Nobody knows. 
But I can tell you for damn sure you never would have gotten me to sit in that and then go under water. NOPE. 
I took pictures of some of the books. Lots of them were well loved and/or had deteriorated over time but almost all of them are behind glass now and you're not allowed to touch anything anywhere but man.... I would have loved to page through some of the ones I saw!

It was a really fun day, I'm so glad we went to see it. I know I toured Glensheen as a kid and I've been there for two events but it was just in like 3 rooms and that's it, but it's been a very long time since I've toured it. I told Matt when Penelope and Lucy are a little bigger we'll have to go tour it and I'd like to see the other floors because I've never been.

4 comments:

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Oh wow, what a beautiful place. I love all the old books, and these dresses are gorgeous! Yeah, I would not get in that contraption and go under water. Like, why?! lol

You need to link this up for Local Tourist next Wednesday!!

-Lauren
www.shootingstarsmag.net

Beth (Coffee Until Cocktails) said...

I love the Glensheen Mansion! I've been a couple of times, one of the times was for Christmas and every room was decorated and it was so lovely! That Breakfast Room is one of my favorites too, so much so that I hope to build a room like that on my own house someday (in a galaxy far far away). The Gowns exhibit looks really cool! My friend will be up there for her birthday next weekend so I'll have to mention this to her!

Julie H said...

Very pretty! Looks like a nice relaxing tour.

mypixieblog said...

I love going being a tourist where I live and so cool that you have this so close to you. Those dresses are adorable (love the flapper style one too) and the bridal gown looks very petite. Also I totes want that cookie cutter! Haha.

And now I want a breakfast room. Le sigh.