Duluth, MN Part V: Glensheen Mansion
Superior, MN - Events of Thursday, July 7, 2011
After we left Enger Tower, we drove a few miles along the north shore of Lake Superior to Glensheen Mansion. Glensheen is a 38-room, Jacobean-style mansion built from 1905 to 1908 by Chester A. Congdon and his wife, Clara. Chester A. Congdon was a lawyer who came to Duluth in 1892 and became a partner in a law firm. He later became became general council for US Steel, but where he really made his money was as an investor in iron and copper mining.
The tours of the mansion are guided, and we had about half an hour to kill before our tour so we looked around the gardens. The plot in the photo below had an interesting pattern created by planting different kinds of leaf lettuce.
In addition to lettuce and other vegetables, the garden had quite a few flowers.
Flowers in the composite photo below are peonies (top and bottom left), iris (center), peony (top right), and petunia (bottom right).
Tours start inside the carriage house. The carriage house is so big, at first we thought it was the main house.
The Congdons kept several cows, and we walked past the milking stalls on our way into the carriage house.
Then we passed through the stables where the horses were kept. Automobiles were available, but weren't that prevalent yet in the early 1900s, so the Congdons used carriages in the early years at their new house. In fact, they bought several new carriages about the same time they built their mansion.
Within a few minutes of our getting to the carriage house, our tour was called. From the carriage house, the tour heads up the walk toward the main house. Along the way, we started to appreciate the beauty of the site the Congdons selected to build their house. In addition to the gardens, there are woods, beautiful lake views and well-manicured lawns.
The name of the estate, Glensheen, comes from the fact the mansion is located in a wooded glen. The origin of the "sheen" part of the name is a little less clear, but Mrs. Congdon referred to the sheen from the lake in her journal, so that is one possible meaning.
Unfortunately, photography isn't permitted inside the house, so all we can show you is the exterior.
The inside of the house is finished with carved paneling, marble fireplaces and custom-built furnishings. Approximately 95% of the furnishings and accessories in the house are original. The home has 27,000 square feet of living space. Gleensheen was state of the art for the time it was built, and it has hot water, electricity (like the James J. Hill mansion we saw in St. Paul, the light fixtures had both electricity and gas), and central heat.
The Congdons had 7 children, one of whom died in infancy. Most of their children were in their mid to late teens by the time the Congdons moved to Glensheen. After Chester died in 1916, his wife and Elisabeth, who was the Congdon's youngest child and who was unmarried, continued to live at Glensheen. Chester's wife died in 1955. Elisabeth, who was the last of the Congdon children, donated the estate to the University of Minnesota in 1969. Elisabeth was allowed to remain in the home until her death in 1977. The fact that the house remained in the family is the reason so much of the furnishings and accessories are still there.
The university opened the home to the public in 1979. The university also uses the estate for educational purposes and rents it out for special events such as weddings, corporate meetings and private parties.
After the tour, we stopped for a photo on the terrace behind the house.
The terrace overlooks the formal gardens.
From the formal garden, we walked down to the lake. Glensheen got its water from Tischer Creek, which runs down the western side of the property. The photo below shows where the creek meets the lake.
We followed a path a short distance up Tischer Creek to where a stone bridge crossed the creek.
The path at the other side of the stone bridge was quite narrow and we decided we didn't need an encounter with poison ivy, so we headed back to the beach. Also along the lake shore is the boat house and the remnants of the pier, which was the largest private pier on the lake at the time it was built.
By the time we climbed Enger Tower and toured Glensheen, we were starved, so the 2011 Zeller Foodie Tour stopped at the Anchor Bar and Grill in Superior, MN on our way back to the motor home.
The Anchor Bar, which was featured on Triple D, specializes in burgers. In fact, that's just about all they serve. They use ground beef that they buy fresh every day. On a typical day, they will go through 120 to 150 pounds.
There are over 20 different types of burgers on the menu that start at $2.75 for plain. Also on the menu are things like a Reuben burger with sauerkraut and Swiss, the olive burger with cream cheese-olive spread, and the cashew burger with cashews and Swiss. The most expensive item on the menu is the galley buster, which is a one-pound triple burger with three slices of cheese for $5.75.
Margery had a blue cheese burger, Paul had a regular cheeseburger, and we split an order of fries. The burgers were both delish - nice and juicy without being too greasy. The bar was pretty busy for 2:30 in the afternoon, and we had to wait about 45 minutes to get our food. Paul figures they probably take their time with the food because most people will just order another round of drinks while they're waiting. With such a low price for their burgers, they probably make most of their money on drinks. By the time the food came, we were so hungry we forgot to take a picture. Oh well, they pretty much looked like regular hamburgers anyway.
We had a couple more things we wanted to see while staying in Superior. Stay tuned.