Postcards from Glensheen


Oh, that Congdon opulence. Glensheen Mansion and Museum, “the Historic Congdon Estate,” has been open for tours since 1979. In this post we look at some early postcards from the historic house museum, which of course looks very much the same today. Above is the north entrance of the Jacobean manor house.

Background: Glensheen is the former home of iron mining millionaire Chester Congdon and his family. It was built from 1905 to 1908 at 3300 London Road in Duluth. The 39-room estate was designed by St. Paul architect Clarence H. Johnston, Sr. The 7.5-acre property includes a carriage house, boat house, gardener’s cottage, tennis courts and expansive gardens. Inside the mansion are marble and oak, gold leaf and teak trim and furnishings from around the world. It was worth $864,000 in 1905.

The estate was donated to the University of Minnesota in 1968 and became a museum following the 1977 murder of its final resident, Elisabeth Congdon, who was smothered in her bed with a pink satin pillow. Her night nurse was murdered the same night, beaten to death with a candlestick holder.


This lakeside view of the main residence shows the terraced garden and lily pond.


Seen here is one of the formal gardens, centered by a sun dial. The gardener’s cottage and carriage house are in the background.


The formal dining room has damask wallcovering, a Sienna marble fireplace and fixtures of silver and alabaster.

A fruit and flower motif is used for the damask wall covering and English silver fixtures. Dark mahogany furniture is used as an accent.


The designs in the stained glass on the second-floor landing are repeated in the stenciled border of the canvas wall covering.

glensheen-mansion-blue-bedroom glensheen-mansion-breakfast-room

Glensheen’s Blue Bedroom features a mahogany canopy bed, silver light fixtures and Chenille carpet from Belgium.

The breakfast room features green Rookwood tile. The stained glass windows, light fixture and hand-carved furnishings have an oakleaf motif.

Glensheen Library

The library, favorite gathering place of the family, with custom-designed furnishings, leather-embossed ceiling, wool tapestry wallcovering and fireplace of lustre tiles.

The living room features mahogany panels, Algerian marble fireplace, goat’s hair damask wall covering and furnishings designed for the room.

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