Hidden Glensheen

Hidden Glensheen – Carriage House: Carriages and Sleighs

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The attic of the Carriage House was, and still is, used for storage. During winter, the carriages were moved up to the attic, and during summer, the sleighs were stored there.

Carriages and sleighs were moved upstairs using this hand-powered elevator:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Here, you can see a Studebaker carriage at the lift gate:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Many people are familiar with the name Studebaker, and they know them as being famous for their cars. The original Studebaker company was founded by five brothers who were blacksmiths, foundrymen, wheelwrights and farmers. They combined to form the Studebaker company, and started building wagons to be used on farms. Because they were so well made, the Studebaker brand quickly became quite popular. When the company won a large contract from the U.S. Army, at least one of the brothers left the company. All the Studebaker brothers were raised as ‘Dunkard Brethren,’ which is a conservative arm of the German Baptist Church, and which views war as evil. Rather than being a part of a company that helps support any war, some of the brothers chose to go back to farming.

Here you can see the Studebaker name, on the back of the canopy:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Another famous carriage manufacturer was Brewster & Company, and the Congdons owned their carriages as well. Brewster was so well regarded, that a young jewelry company was given the compliment: “My opinion is that Tiffany was the Brewster of Jewelers.” Perhaps this will give you an indication of how well-regarded Brewster carriages were. This carriage was built by J.B. Brewster, one of the sons of the original Brewster:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

However, not all was peaceful in the Brewster company. Here you can see the oil lamp in its glass housing, but the name is not “Brewster & Company.”

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Brewster & Company was founded by James Brewster in 1810. James had two sons, and after his death in 1866, the two sons fought for control of the company and its name. There are more details than we need to get into here, but this fight eventually made it all the way up to the Supreme Court, which decided in favor of the original Brewster & Company.

Family drama notwithstanding, the Brewster carriages were top of the line, with windshields, lights, and even intercom systems to talk to the driver.

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

This is a driving whip, which was used to tap the horses to indicate which direction they should go. You can tell it’s a driving whip because the handle is extremely long, and the ‘whip’ portion is only a few inches long:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Here’s the base of the handle, resting in its holster:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Here is the interior of one of the Brewster carriages:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Here’s another carriage with the monogram ‘CAC’ painted on the side, for Chester Adgate Congdon:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

This is a Brewster Phaeton Carriage, which was designed to be driven by the rider (no chauffeur). Here you can see a bit more of the carriage, including its fender and the handle used for climbing up:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Here is one of the Congdon’s sleighs. This is sleigh is not as famous as their ‘Red Russian Sleigh,’ which was purchased from their friends Guilford and Caroline Hartley (namesake of Duluth’s Hartley Park). However, I especially like the details on the front of this Portland Cutter:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

In addition to carriages and sleighs, this part of the Carriage House attic is used for storage. I know a few people that have a rather large collection of terra cotta pots, but I’ve never seen anyone with as many pots as are at Glensheen!

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

The maintenance people at Glensheen have also amassed a small collection of extras for various exterior pieces. These terra cotta roofing tiles are used to replace any pieces that become damaged or broken:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Look at the detail at the end of this piece:

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

I wasn’t able to find where this tile piece normally goes, so the next time you visit, direct your eyes up to the roof to see if you can find it!

There are several barrels in the attic filled with packing straw. These barrels were used to ship these light gloves. Again, I don’t recall seeing any globes that look like this, so keep your eyes peeled.

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

Lastly, there were a few burlap sacks filled with bricks, although these are no ordinary bricks!

Hidden Glensheen Carriages and Sleighs by Bryan French Photography

These were made by combining bitumen and cork and pressing them into brick shapes. They were ideal for a northern stable, since they didn’t get slippery when wet, and they didn’t transmit cold through the ground like a concrete or regular brick floor. For whatever reason, cork bricks never really caught on, but they were another sign that Chester wanted a state-of-the-art home, with the best amenities. You can see these bricks down in the cow stables.  

Next: Carriage House Attic Storage
Previous: Carriage House Garage

2 Comments

  1. That nylon covered fiberglass whip is not period. Real, traditional driving whips are made out of holly and they did have a longish lash or thong. You should be able to reach your horse’s shoulder with your whip when driving.

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