Located in Duluth, Minnesota, the Glensheen Historic Estate is a history museum housed in a breathtakingly beautiful mansion. Maintained and operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth, the Glensheen Historic Estate is the perfect place for visitors to learn about Minnesota’s rich history.
The Glensheen Historic Estate was donated to the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1968 after Elisabeth Congdon was given the estate as a place to call home until she passed away. Elisabeth was the youngest daughter of Chester Congdon, who built the estate. Although the Glensheen Historic Estate as given to the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1968, it wasn’t open to the public until 1979. When the Glensheen Historic Estate first opened to the public, visitors were not allowed to explore the third floor or attic due to safety concerns. But, in 1992 the Glensheen Historic Estate began taking small groups into the third floor and attic.
Aside from its architectural and historical significance, the Glensheen Historic Estate is known for being the place where Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila, where murdered on June 27, 1977. Elisabeth’s adopted daughter, Marjorie, was charged with working alongside her second husband, Roger Caldwell, to commit murder. Although Marjorie was acquitted on all chargers, Caldwell received two life sentences for two counts of first-degree murder. Five years after the crime, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned Caldwell’s conviction in attempt to retry the case. But, Caldwell avoided extensive trials by submitting a full confession, and thus pleading guilty. Caldwell was eventually released from prison, but he committed suicide in 1988. As for Marjorie, she spent 12 years in prison for two convictions of arson.
For many of the following years after the “1977 incident”, tour guides of the Glensheen Historic Estate would disregard any mention or questions of the murders. But, now tour guides regularly answer questions about the 1977 incident towards the end of the tour.
The Glensheen Historic Estate hasn’t released much information about what lies within the estate. This is to enhance the historical experience when visitors explore the Glensheen Historic Estate. Although there are not detailed descriptions of the Glensheen Historic Estate, visitors can expect to explore:
• Approximately 12 acres of land
• An intricate design of gardens with architectural structures, such as bridges
• The famous mansion with 39 rooms and an intricate 20th century design
It should be noted that everyone who visits the Glensheen Historic Estate must tour the grounds with a tour guide and group.
Since visitors are required to tour the Glensheen Historic Estate with a tour guide and group, every experience at the Glensheen Historic Estate provides visitors with an array of information. In other ords, simply touring the Glensheen Historic Estate is an educational opportunity within itself. That being said, the Glensheen Historic Estate does not offer any other educational opportunities than their guided tours.
There are three main categories of Glensheen Historic Estate tours: Year Round, Elite, and Seasonal. Each category offers a variety of tour options, which visitors have the option of choosing from.
The Year Round tours offer visitors an overall glimpse into the Glensheen Historic Estate. The available Year Round tours are:
• Classic is a general tour of the Glensheen Historic Estate.
• Full Mansion is a glimpse into the overall Glensheen Historic Estate, including the third floor.
• Nooks & Crannies is a look into the more secluded portions of the Glensheen Historic Estate, such as the attic.
• Servants is an exploration of the areas where the servants resided.
While the Year Round tours give you an overall glimpse into the Glensheen Historic Estate, the Elite tours give visitors an exclusive look into the estate. The two Elite tours are:
• Premier is an all-inclusive experience into each and every room of the 27,000 square foot mansion, including the restricted areas and outside gardens.
• Director’s takes visitors into an even more exclusive look into what lies within the Glensheen Historic Estate. In addition to the Premier tour package, visitors have the opportunity to see places only the Director has access to, such as the silver safe, as well as intriguing and special stories.
The Seasonal tours are the perfect option for people who have toured the Glensheen Historic Estate before, but want a new and exciting experience. Below are the current Seasonal tour options:
• Flashlight takes visitors throughout the mansion in the dark with a flashlight as the only source of light.
• Grounds is offered from June through August and is an in-depth tour of the gardens.
• Kayak is offered throughout the summer and is the perfect way to explore Glensheen from Lake Superior.
• Candlelight Christmas Evenings is offered throughout December, and allows visitors to explore Glensheen decorated with lights, Christmas trees, and other holiday décor.
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3300 London Rd, Duluth, MN 55804, Phone: 218-726-8910
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