The laundry room was the first room I would enter, every time I came to Glensheen during the several months of this project. Since I wasn’t getting the grand tour like most of you, I was relegated to coming in with ‘the help.’ And in fact, I was just fine with that.
The Congdons approach to laundry changed over time (unsurprisingly). At first, Glensheen maids handled the laundry, but as the number of people living at Glensheen decreased, the Congdons eventually hired a laundress to visit weekly, to handle the laundering duties.
This is called a ‘mangler,’ and was used to both squeeze water out of large pieces of fabric, while also pressing it flat:
Although the name ‘mangler’ might bring to mind some scary outcomes, the name actually goes back to the Greek language, and the word ‘manganon’ which meant ‘engine.’
This was the clothes dryer!
Once the laundry was run through the mangler, the laundress would hang it on all these racks and then close the doors:
This is the dryer from the side, where the hot air came in:
The Chicago Dryer Company is still in operation today, and is still in the laundry business!
This is a hand-fluter. It’s missing the cast iron base, but it was used to add ruffles to your clothes:
This is the hook that holds the door closed for the laundry chute:
When you’re taking a tour that includes the 3rd floor, they will show you the laundry chute. Dirty laundry would have fallen quite a ways to get down to the basement!
And here, you can see that the floor was a terrazzo (chips of marble set into concrete and then polished), which would have been installed because it’s extremely durable:
And lastly, this isn’t strictly the laundry room, but there’s a utility room adjacent to the laundry room, and today it’s used primarily as storage for Glensheen staff. However, there are still some fun old fixtures, including these gas valves with their original brass number tags:
Next Room: Boiler Room (coming soon!)
Previous Room: Milk Room