If You Thought You Knew Glensheen, You Haven’t Seen It In The Dark

Glensheen Flashlight Tour: Destination Duluth

Photo courtesy of Glensheen. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

by Ingrid Hornibrook

Tonight I had the pleasure of going on the first ever Flashlight Tour at Glensheen Historic Estate. The tour, as you can gather from the name, was done in the dark and by flashlight. If you’re like me and have gone on the regular tour several times already, you’re probably thinking you could give the tour yourself. But seeing the opulent mansion is a completely different experience in the dark.

Touring Glensheen multiple times is like seeing your favorite movie over and over again. You get the “warm fuzzies” when the home welcomes you in with its pineapple accents carved in the wood, the symbol of hospitality. You feel like you’re in a place of comfort after a long journey when you look up at the 24K gold leaf ceiling in the receiving room. Donated by the Congdon family to UMD, Glensheen really does begin to feel like your own home, if you’ve wandered its corridors enough. But the details! The care and love that went into planning the home’s décor really pops during the Flashlight Tour.

Detailed design.

The first thing you will notice is the care that Chester and Clara Congdon went into choosing the glass for the various lights throughout the mansion. The shades were chosen specifically for its iridescent look when the lights were turned off. We could see this luminescent accent when our tour guide shined her flashlight on the shade. The highlight of the different lighting in the home is the “Paris by Day, Paris by Night” lamp in the living room. Never before have tourists or tour guides seen the true magnificence of this lamp.

Custom down to the last tile.

The tiles in the home were as custom to each room as the occupant. In one of the daughters’ rooms, the tiles around her fireplace showcased five thousand tiny, hand painted tiles, which showed off her school spirit in the colors of pink, green, and gray. In their eldest son’s room, a beanstalk tile was chosen whose design couldn’t be seen in the light of day. In the Breakfast Room, each of the 6’’ by 6’’ tiles had a lifetime warrantee, were cataloged by the company, and replaced with an exact replica if one of the tiles broke.

An element of creepy.

Before you head into the master bedroom, one of the paintings that is pointed out that is likely showcased during the daytime tours. The painting is a companion painting of a girl and her cat. It is painted in such a way that no matter which direction you walk, her eyes follow you. Extra creepy at night, but that’s about the only thing creepy about the Glensheen Flashlight tour, which is perfect for the entire family.

This is the first time a tour of this kind has been offered at Glensheen. Tours are only offered through the end of March and are limited to 10 visitors at a time, so you best purchase your tickets early! The best way to guarantee your spot is to purchase your tickets online.

The Flashlight Tour is a must-see. This blog only scratches the surface of what you’ll experience, but rest assured, at the end of it you’ll easily be able to imagine what it was like to design the beautiful home, as well as what it was like for the Congdons to live in it.

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6 comments on “If You Thought You Knew Glensheen, You Haven’t Seen It In The Dark
  1. Gladys Eral says:

    I was a volunteer when it first opened.

  2. Lorna Bailey says:

    I was there about ten years ago. I was in Duluth for work. Someone suggested we go see the old Mansion. It was absolutely the highlight of my trip. I still tell people about it and hos amazing it was. I will never forget how beautiful the estate is. Glensheen will be forever in my mind. Thank you for allowing this to be a part of so many peoples lives.

    Fort Payne, Alabama

    • jerry says:

      Lorna, Thank you for your comment and recommending Glensheen. We will pass your recommendation on to the good folk at Glensheen as well as make it a part of our blog on “What to do when it rains”

  3. Nicole Myers (Zaiser) says:

    Why was the mansion donated UMD Arts? Does anyone have details? I’m curious why it did not stay taken care of by the family?

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