Every time we drive by the Glensheen Mansion on London Road in Duluth, my daughter tells me, “In my whole twelve years of living I have never been to the Glensheen. We need to change that.” She’s right. We did need to change that.
Over this past Thanksgiving break, I surprised her by taking her on a classic walking tour of the Glensheen. We hit the jackpot with a gorgeously beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon. It had been years since I had taken the tour myself, and I have never gotten to experience it while it was all decked out for the yuletide season.
Let me tell you: it was breathtaking.
Our Holiday Visit
Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the estate was was busy and brimming with families. All of the young children were hunting for the hidden elves that the staff sprinkled around the mansion. The Glensheen offers something fun to engage children of all ages, from the searching of elves to their hashtag #GlensheenChristmas so older kids can post their photos on Instagram and Snapchat.
Initially, my daughter was a little hesitant to leave our visiting family back at the house (especially her 1 year-old nephew), but she got into the spirit of the tour once we started it and I was so happy to get some one-on-one time with my her. Time alone with a tween daughter is priceless.
When we entered the house, we were greeted by the butler and escorted into the entrance where there’s currently a beautifully erected Christmas tree standing at attention. We started our tour in the the Reception Room which has a ceiling made of gold… yes that’s right, real gold. The amount of detail that went into building the house is beyond amazing, and the care that has gone into maintaining its original glory is astonishing.
My daughter loved the designated “girls” floor of the Glensheen; the closets are larger than some of our bedrooms! We thought it was interesting that the tour guide referred to the Congdon’s one shower as a “painful experience.” The various shower heads placed throughout the shower sprayed water every which way.
But my daughter’s favorite part of the home, as I am sure the case may be with most 12 year old girls, is the photobooth on the lower level.
My favorite was the breakfast room. It so bright and sunny. I could just picture the family taking their tea in there while watching the sun come up over the lake. As a mom with a family of 8, organization is huge, so I also loved the laundry area that included a numbering system that corresponded with the sheets to each bedroom.
Of course, as we walked through the estate, we couldn’t help but be intrigued with learning even more about the history of the Congdon family. We pulled out our phones and Google searched for more information. My daughter and I both decided that the next time we visit, we’re definitely springing for the full tour that includes access to the third floor and storytelling by the staff.
With the beautiful lights and holiday decorations, it’s easy to imagine the joyful Congdon family Christmas celebrations of past: trees and nativity scenes scattered throughout the house, happy carols played on the grand piano, and friends and family dressed in their finest.
It’s Your Turn
Open daily from 9 am – 4 pm, visiting the Glensheen is the perfect way to spend an afternoon learning more about the historic family. The classic tour includes viewings of the first floor, the second floor, the lower level rooms, and the grounds. On the weekends it is self-guided so you can set your own pace.
I know that my daughter and I won’t be waiting another twelve years to take the tour together again!