Discovering, Minnesota

Top Things To Do in Duluth: Historic Glensheen Mansion Tour

Like Duluth and the North Shore of Lake Superior, the calling to visit the Glensheen is strong. A historic Glensheen Mansion tour is one of the top things to do in Duluth, if not all, Minnesota. It holds a special place in our hearts, and no matter the season of your visit to Duluth, this is a stunning stop. 

When planning your vacation to Duluth and the North Shore of Lake Superior, we recommend one of the top things to do in Duluth: a historic Glensheen Mansion tour. This stunning historical site is a fascinating testament to the grandeur of the past and a must-see for anyone visiting Duluth, the North Shore of Lake Superior, or driving the Lake Superior Circle Tour

The Glensheen Mansion has it all: history, mystery, intrigue, and opulence. Thankfully, this 39-room estate is open to the public, and we suggest a tour to take it all in.

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glensheen back

A few Glensheen Mansion Facts:

  • Glensheen means “Shining Glen” and was named after Chester’s ancestral home in Surrey, England. 
  • Construction of the Jacobean-Style Mansion took place from 1905-1908 and cost $854,000. Today’s value 
  • Glensheen is 27,000 square feet, sits on 12 acres, with Lake Superior as it’s back yard
  • Tischer Creek flows under the stone arch bridge next to Glensheen and into Lake Superior. 
  • Chester Congdon did not grow up wealthy. He was a self-taught attorney who earned money in iron mining and banking. He was also the US Attorney of Minnesota and one of the wealthiest men in Minnesota at the time. This book is a fascinating read about Chester Congdon. 

As mentioned above, visiting Glensheen at least once in your lifetime is a must when visiting Duluth. We don’t tour Glensheen on every visit; even pulling into the parking lot itches the scratch of seeing the stunning property. 

breakfast room

More About Glensheen Mansion

Sitting on the 12-acre property, in addition to the 39-room mansion, there is a carriage house, gardener’s cottage, servant’s quarters, a stone-arch bridge, and a boathouse. 

After Chester and Clara died, their daughter Elisabeth Manning Congdon inherited the family fortune and was the last resident of Glensheen. 

Book it: A Historic Glensheen Mansion Tour

We highly recommend taking at least one guided tour of Glensheen. Your docent will provide the history of the house built by Chester Congdon. Glensheen Mansion is undoubtedly one of the coolest things to do in Duluth. 

Keep in mind that Glensheen is not exempt from staffing issues. The Congdons donated Glensheen to the University of Minnesota- Duluth, which oversees operations. 

Guided Tours change to accommodate their staffing abilities, and the types of guided tours they offer will change depending on several factors. 

Tours are constantly changing to keep people coming back. For instance, you can take a classic tour or the “lock and key tour,” which gives you access to hidden spaces not typically open for tours.

If you don’t have time for a Mansion Tour, treat yourself to a Grounds Admission tour, which allows you to wander the 12-acre grounds. 

Trust us, even the grounds are Instagram-worthy! 

stone arch bridge at glensheen mansion

Consider a tour of Glensheen at Christmas time as it will be completely decorated for Christmas. The Candlelight Christmas Tour would be the perfect addition to your weekend in Duluth to see the Bentleyville Tour of Lights.

So Many Details inside Glensheen. 

We recommend a tour because it’s so interesting to hear the details of the house. Imagine having the money it took to build Glensheen in 1905 (nearly $1M). 

Charles and Clara left no detail untouched inside the home. Most were selected and purchased in other countries, from the tiles used on the fireplaces to the stained glass, wallpaper, lighting, and decor details. It’s fascinating to hear all the details given on the tour. Opulent is the only word to describe it all. 

exquisite water fountain in breakfast room

Yes, There Was a Murder at Glensheen

It’s impossible to ignore the elephant in the room (especially while taking a tour).  We have never been on a tour where the docent is not asked questions about the murders that took place. Sometimes, they answer, and other times, they don’t. 

Chester and Clara had seven children. Their eldest daughter, Elizabeth, heiress to the taconite fortune that Chester Congdon left, could not bear children. She adopted two daughters, one of whom was named Marjorie. Marjorie was absolutely the family’s black sheep. She was adopted at just three months old and grew up at Glensheen. 

The Infamous Night at Glensheen

In 1977, Marjorie’s THIRD husband, Roger, broke into Glensheen one evening and killed not only Marjorie’s mother, Elizabeth Congdon, but also her night nurse, Velma Pietila, with a candlestick. 

Marjorie was tried for aiding and abetting Roger but was acquitted, while Roger was sentenced to prison, where he later committed suicide. Marjore found trouble wherever she went. This book is a fascinating read about her self-induced troubled life.

Special Events at Glensheen

A Glensheen Mansion Tour is not the only way to enjoy Glensheen. They often hold special events, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy Glensheen without a tour during the summer. 

One way to experience Glensheen is to attend Beer Garden at Glensheen.

Local breweries host the Beer Garden at Glensheen. Duluth and the North Shore is home to some of our favorite breweries in the state.

Glensheen also hosts Concerts on the Pier. You can watch the concert from your kayak or boat on Lake Superior or bring a chair and sit on the grounds. 

One evening, we even attended a syrup-tasting event with a chef from one of our favorite Duluth restaurants, Duluth Grill,  and a local syrup company, Sapsucker Farms. This was held in Glensheen’s basement, offering us private access to certain basement areas. 

staircase in glensheen mansion

Know Before You Go to a Glensheen Mansion Tour

Is Glensheen handicap accessible?  Glensheen Mansion tours are not handicap accessible. However, some areas of the grounds are more accessible than others, which is to be expected for a property built in 1908. There are stairs to climb inside the Mansion, and you’re on your feet for the duration of the tour, which can last 1.5-2 hours, depending on which tour you’re taking. 

The first floor of the carriage house is the only part of the mansion that is fully handicap accessible. 

Pay to Park? Parking at Glensheen is free.

Can I take pictures inside Glensheen? Yes, however, flash is not allowed. You can also take photos of the grounds at Glensheen. 

Should I pre-book tour tickets at Glensheen?  Yes, it’s best to pre-book. Space is limited for tours, and tours can fill up quickly as Glensheen is a popular destination in Duluth.

You can purchase tour tickets ahead of time if you would like. We often visit Duluth and the North Shore during shoulder season when it’s less busy, as we argue it’s the most popular place to visit in all of Minnesota.  We’ve never had an issue with buying tickets on the same day.

Pro Tip: We know the tour schedule ahead of time but don’t necessarily want to pick the tour until the day of. Once we see the day, we head to the ticket office in person to purchase tickets. This could be several hours before to

How much time do you need at Glensheen? Tours take about 1.5 hours. Allow extra time to explore the grounds before or after the tour. You might pack a lunch and eat on the grounds before or after your tour. You can also grab takeout at any of Duluth’s fantastic restaurants

When is The Best Time to Tour Glensheen? Any season is the best time to tour Glensheen Mansion. It’s beautiful and cozy to visit Glensheen during any season. During Christmas, Glensheen is decorated for Christmas, a whole other level of Hygge. Spring lets you see exterior details you might miss when the trees are full-blown. Summer is just the perfect time with the cool breeze blowing in from Lake Superior.

It’s so fun to tour the rooms and imagine the views the family must have seen while living at Glensheen. 

The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong visiting Glensheen in any season. You’ll find more ways and reasons to love Glensheen. 

Can you Find Coupons for Glensheen Mansion?

Great news! Because the Glensheen Mansion tour is popular, many area hotels offer coupons for it. Some of the hotels also offer shuttle rides to Glensheen. Check out this page for more information. 

We stayed at (and highly recommend) Beacon Pointe, and they provided complimentary tickets for a tour during one of our stays. 

Take a Virtual Tour of Glensheen

Are you not heading to Duluth anytime soon? You’re in luck. You can take a Web tour of Glensheen from the comfort of your home. This will likely lead you to want to see Glensheen in person at a later date. 

Where is the Glensheen Mansion?

The Glensheen Mansion is at 3300 London Rd, Duluth, MN 55804, between London Road and Lake Superior. 


Pin for Your Duluth Trip


  1. shafinah.jaafar

    May 28, 2024 at 1:02 am

    wow those murders definitely caught my eye! what a storied house, im literally deep diving into the trails right now! 😂😂

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      May 28, 2024 at 10:13 am

      You’re our kind of people- so intriguing!

  2. Linda (LD Holland)

    May 26, 2024 at 11:11 am

    We really do need to add Minnesota to our road trip plans. And with a stop in Duluth we would certainly not want to miss driving the Lake Superior Circle tour. And a stop at Glensheen Mansion. Glad to hear a tour is worthwhile and changes over time too. Good reasons to head back more than once.

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      May 28, 2024 at 10:13 am

      You really do need to visit Minnesota! You would love Duluth and the North Shore of Lake Superior.

  3. Her Asian adventures

    May 26, 2024 at 1:47 am

    Great blog post! I´ve never heard of the Glehnsheen mansion but it really seems like one of the top things to do in Duluth!! Love it!

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      May 28, 2024 at 10:12 am

      It’s a not-so-hidden gem, for sure! You’d love it.

  4. kmfiswriting

    May 25, 2024 at 9:55 am

    I’m a huge fan of Duluth and Glensheen Mansion. Love the history, architecture, and the gorgeous gardens in the summer and festive Christmas trees and decorations in the winter.

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      May 28, 2024 at 10:11 am

      Totally agree! Duluth pulls at our heartstrings and we love to visit.

  5. Sonia

    May 25, 2024 at 8:43 am

    Visiting the Glensheen mansion at Christmas when it’s all decorated sounds great. The stories of the mansion (and murders) certainly makes for an interesting tour too.

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      May 28, 2024 at 10:12 am

      A Glensheen visit at Christmas is especially hygge!

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