Hidden Glensheen

Hidden Glensheen – Walter’s Room

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Walter was the oldest Congdon son. In 1908, when Glensheen was completed, Walter would have been 26 years old and started on his career (in the mining business). It’s unlikely that Walter spent any significant amount of time at Glensheen.

Here was his room shortly after it was completed:

Historic photo from Walter's Room

And here it is today:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

What has changed? Not much, really. There are more pictures on the walls now, but the furniture is all the same – even the bedspread is the same!

Here’s the fireplace, with Rookwood tile and painted with a fava bean design. I especially like the woven pattern inside the firebox:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

The furniture shares similar design features to those in Edward’s Room, and in the Boy’s Lounge. Note the dark ebony wood inlay:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

Here’s a detail of one of the inlays. If you recall, I shared a similar photo from Edward’s Room. The difference here is that the wood around the inlay was cut from four triangular pieces of wood pieced together to make it look as if you were looking into a tunnel:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

The wood design can be attributed to John Bradstreet’s “Crafthouse,” a high-end design company in Minneapolis. Bradstreet was a true master – even Louis Comfort Tiffany (of ‘Tiffany stained glass windows’ fame) declared that John Bradstreet’s technique was one of the most original and artistic treatments of wood that he had ever seen. Much of the third floor of Glensheen has furniture designed by John Bradstreet, and Glensheen’s collection is one of the finest intact collections of Bradstreet furniture in the world.

I’m a big fan of the spine art on the books on the bookshelf:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

Here’s a photo of Chester and Walter that sits on the desk:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

Apparently, these kanji show the title of the book as “47 Ronin,” a famous story from Japan in the 17th century (and more recently, a movie starring Keanu Reeves):

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

There’s a picture rail around Walter’s Room (every room should have one!), and there are interesting bric a brac around the room, including this boomerang:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

Above the doorway into Walter’s bathroom is another boomerang, alongside a painting called ‘The Widow,” by the important New Zealand painter Charles Frederick Goldie. More on this painting in a moment.

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

Here’s a close view of the boomerang. It certainly doesn’t look like much, does it? I think we have to hand it to Chester Congdon for exploring much more of the world than many of his counterparts.

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

Here are a couple of reed baskets framing a Maori fan:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

Going through the doorway into the bathroom. Walter would have shared this bathroom with whomever might be staying in the Married Guest Room. Of course, it’s most likely that visitors used this bathroom far more than Walter ever did. Here is the tub water valves and drain assembly:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

Here you can see the quite beautiful drain guard, with all of the crackling of the old enameled steel:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

This bathroom also had one of the impressive 13-head showers:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

The light fixtures in the bathroom show the dual-option (gas on top; electric on bottom):

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

So back the ‘The Widow,’ here it is again, from afar:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

On the back of the painting is its description, including a sale price, about £13.

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

I used a New Zealand currency inflation calculator to determine how much this would be worth today, then converted it into U.S. Dollars. In today’s U.S. dollars, Chester would have spent somewhere around $1,400 to acquire this small painting.

It looks like it was labeled to be sent back home – in pencil, right on the back of the wooden frame:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

And here it is up close, with Goldie’s signature on the top left:

Historic Hidden Glensheen photo from Walter's Room

Charles Frederick Goldie painted a very large number of Maori tribal elders. He painted this very woman many times, and in many different poses. When Goldie was painting these Maori elders, ‘the establishment’ considered his work déclassé, since the Maori were considered to be a dying race. Today however, the Maori are grateful that Goldie spent so much time and energy painting their revered elders. I wonder how much of this Chester was aware of, when he purchased the painting.

Next Room: Married Guest Room (coming soon)
Previous Room: Boy’s Lounge

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