3300 London Rd., Duluth, Minnesota
Among the welcome by-products of Minnesota’s prosperous iron industry in the early 1900s are the stately homes built in the Duluth area. One such sumptuous manor house is Glensheen, the 39-room Jacobean-style home of millionaire attorney and iron-mine owner Chester Congdon, built from 1905–08 on the shore of Lake Superior. Named for the soft shimmer of the sun on a brook flowing through a small glen, the 7 1/2-acre estate includes a carriage house, boathouse, bowling green, and well-tended gardens.
Glensheen is noted for its hand-carved woodwork, elaborate ceiling plasterwork, and stained-glass windows. The entrance hall, oak-paneled in a 16th-century English pattern, is lighted by brass chandeliers incorporating the motif of the British lion. A red marble fireplace sets the color scheme of the mahogany-paneled drawing room, which is considered to be the most beautiful room in the house. The living room contains the “Little Museum,” where mementos of the family’s travels are displayed.
The reception room features a ceiling of gold leaf, and the billiard room has walls paneled of oak and “Japanese leather” (made of paper). For all the elegance and fine materials, an inviting sense of human scale is sustained throughout. A series of terraces with balustrades and a small pond lead from the house to the lakeshore.
Visitors are guided through the mansion but may tour the gardens and outbuildings on their own.
Open daily mid-May–mid-Oct.; weekends mid-Oct.– mid-May; closed major winter holidays. Admission charged.
(888) 454-4536; (218) 726-8910