Are you planning a visit to the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, MN? Or perhaps you’re wondering about Glensheen Mansion tours and if they’re worth the ticket price?
In this article, we’ll take a look at what it’s like to tour the Glensheen Mansion, as well as share our top tips and tricks on making the most of Glensheen Mansion Tours.
As one of the coolest and most unique things to do in Duluth, touring Glensheen Mansion tops our list of family-friendly fun things to do in Duluth.
It is an experience not to be missed!
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Glensheen Mansion Tours: A Little History
Glensheen Mansion, the Historic Congdon Estate, is a 39-room (15 bedrooms) mansion located in Duluth, MN. It occupies 12 acres of waterfront property on the shores of Lake Superior.
Now operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth, Glensheen Mansion is the most visited historic home in Minnesota and a definite must-see on your Minnesota bucket list.
Chester and Clara Congdon built Glensheen between 1905 and 1908 as a functioning home for them and their six children.
A former teacher, Chester Congdon acquired his fortune working as a lawyer for the mining industry and through investments in the Mesabi Iron Range.
At the time of his death in 1916, he was worth 40 million dollars and was the wealthiest Minnesotan.
Though they also became involved in politics, this influential family is most known for opening up iron mining in the region and setting aside land for public use, such as the North Shore Scenic Highway and Congdon Park.
Glensheen first opened for tours in the summer of 1979 and has been a popular tourist attraction ever since.
Its unsurpassed beauty and style are a testament to the skills and craftsmanship available more than 100 years ago.
Glensheen Mansion Tours: Know Before You Go
- There are several different Glensheen Mansion tour options with varying prices. We suggest the Full Mansion Tour that showcases all five floors.
- Tickets can be purchased onsite or in advance online. Purchase tickets HERE.
- Gleen Mansion tours are not necessarily cheap, so be ready for sticker shock. Plan in advance to take your time here to get the most bang for your buck.
- Currently, all Glensheen Mansion Tours are self-guided. You will select a time for your entry into the mansion when purchasing tickets. Once inside, you have as much time as you’d like to explore. We usually spend an hour to an hour and a half inside the house, and an additional 30 minutes touring the outside grounds.
- Interpretive signage, a downloadable app, and an optional audio tour are available.
- Parking is free and the parking lot is an easy 2-minute walk to the mansion.
- No food or drink is allowed inside the mansion.
- Glensheen’s Gift Shop offers an assortment of sodas and water. Many visitors bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds before or after their tour.
- Only the Carriage House, the first floor, and the lower level of the mansion are fully handicap accessible.
- Strollers are not allowed in the mansion.
- Non-flash photography is allowed.
- Glensheen launched a 360º virtual tour experience that is available HERE free of charge.
5 Tips for Visiting Glensheen Mansion
The Glensheen Mansion is huge and can be somewhat overwhelming with all there is to see and learn.
These five tips will help you make the most of your visit and help ensure that you have a fantastic time!
1. Check the weather.
In addition to the mansion, the Glensheen estate is positioned on 12 beautiful acres of property with exterior walking paths, both paved and dirt. A rocky Lake Superior beachfront, and corresponding outbuildings can also be experienced here.
Glensheen Mansion Tours involve exploring the grounds, gardens, and hammock forest while also saving time to explore the beach and skip a few rocks.
Rainy, windy, or cold weather can put a damper on your visit and make it less enjoyable, especially when visiting with kids.
Remember to check the weather and bring the appropriate outdoor gear for your visit.
Things like jackets, umbrellas, sunscreen, bug spray, and mittens and hats for colder months will help keep you comfortable while walking the gardens and grounds.
2. Download the Glensheen App.
For an enriched experience during your Glensheen Mansion tour, download the Glensheen app via Google Play or the Apple App Store.
Use the app by selecting your tour or explore via the map by tapping on areas of interest you’d like to know more about as you wander around.
If you’re the listening type, click on the audio tour feature and it will guide you through the spaces. In fact, as you travel the self-guided path, the map will highlight the room you’re in while featuring narration by Glensheen’s own staff.
(Plenty of educational signage is also located in each of the rooms throughout the tour.)
Additional planning tip: Bring your own headphones. What we witnessed, however, is that most guests simply play the audio out loud from their mobile devices.
3. Take your time.
Tour lengths are self-paced and vary depending on the type of tour and your desired experience.
I totally recommend taking your time on the Glensheen Mansion Tours, however. There is so much you will miss out on if you go too fast or fail to take the time to read the signage located in each room.
Likewise, though there are many free things to do in Duluth, Glensheen Mansion tours come with a price tag.
In order to guarantee that your experience is worth it, be sure to tour slowly and appreciate the architecture, ambiance, and decor, as well as the stories that go with it.
4. Ask about murders from 1977.
On June 27, 1977, someone broke into Glensheen Mansion, killed Elizabeth Congdon’s night nurse with a candlestick on the grand staircase, and then smothered the 83-year-old heiress in her bed with a satin pillow. Elizabeth Congdon was the last living child of Chester Congdon.
The Glensheen mansion murder became a media sensation and is still known as one of Minnesota’s most notorious murders. In turn, three books, a documentary, and a theatrical production have been based on the subject, as well as more information can be found on the Internet.
Glensheen Mansion Tours do not highlight this tragedy, however, because they choose not to exploit the event or allow it to overshadow the Congdon family legacy.
If you politely ask any of the Glensheen Mansion staff about the murders, however, they will tastefully speak about the matter and share details from that tragic night.
So, if you’d like to learn more about the murders, tour guides will talk about it if people ask.
5. Treat yourselves at the end.
At the end of the Glensheen Mansion tours is a large gift shop that you will walk through before exiting the mansion.
The Glensheen Mansion gift shop is loaded with fun “Up North” gifts, as well as Glensheen books, apparel, mugs, and memorabilia.
Just outside the gift shop, oftentimes there are local vendors selling craft beer and handmade ice cream that are the perfect treat(s) to enjoy as you stroll the Glensheen property and lakefront.
What do you find most intriguing about Glensheen Mansion Tours? What was your favorite tip that you’ll use on your visit?Jen
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*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find our exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*