Duluth’s Glensheen Mansion, the former home of the family of Chester and Clara Congdon, is a majestic and impressive historical mansion. However, most people don’t have the opportunity or the time to see all the little details that really show off all of the splendor and the unexpected reminders of the very real family who lived in Glensheen Mansion.
Here is the Congdon Family on a picnic. I love this photo for its awkwardness. I can almost hear the photographer saying something like, ‘Okay, everyone, please just hold still one more time. This really should be the last one!’
In this photo You can see Chester on the far right. Presumably, the three daughters are also here (mostly, we only have photos of the daughters as children or as older adults, but few photos in between). Clara is the one with the most excellent hat. And other than Chester, the only other likely male that we know would be there would have been Robert, who would have been 12.
This photographic collection is organized floor by floor, from the basement to the attic. On each floor’s page, you will find additional pages for each room of the mansion.
This project is the result of a long-term and close collaboration with Glensheen staff, especially tour guide Jaron Reif and Collections Manager Milissa Brooks-Ojibway. Their time and enthusiasm have been invaluable, and I owe them a great debt of gratitude.
Thank you, Milissa and Jaron!
From a photographic perspective, this project presented a number of significant challenges. Glensheen Mansion is poorly lit, and flash wasn’t an option. All available light came from relatively dim lighting fixtures, and from windows. This resulted in a lot of high contrast and difficult-to-photograph scenes. Light from the windows would often glare off reflective surfaces, and so we were constantly finding ourselves going back and forth between not having enough light, and trying to block the incoming light to prevent glare. Most images required a tripod, long exposure times, and a lot of patience!
The goal of this project is to show off aspects of the Glensheen collection that the public doesn’t usually have the opportunity to see. In some rooms, the treasures we found were extensive, and in others, there were very few. In either case, please enjoy this rare opportunity to see the curtain pulled back – to experience the Hidden Glensheen.