No wonder the French named it Lake Superior! It took me two days to know the reason. When I first observed the Lake from the historic Glensheen Mansion this Fall, it looked serene, innocent and breathtakingly beautiful…as docile as an angel!
There was no trace of secrecy, aggression or passion, which it has been accused of for centuries.
However the following day, the Lake revealed it’s wild, stormy side… threatening us with its power and supremacy like a treacherous woman. The Lake certainly displays a superiority complex, hence the name!
Nevertheless, the charm of this largest lake in the world, which holds incredible history, mysteries and stories within and around its shores, is infinite. I am sure it exerts certain power on onlookers…I found it hard to look away from its bewitching presence!
Not far from its majestic shores stands the historic and hospitable Glensheen Mansion! It is filled with stories and anecdotes of the illustrious Congdon family of Minnesota, that once lived here.
The house museum presents the lifestyle of the rich and famous in early 20th century, America. Its antiques and artifacts are admirably preserved. (Portraits – Chester and Clara Congdon, the owners of the mansion).
Even the rugs, clothings, towels and tid bits have been taken care of. Ah, how great it would be to live in a mansion like this one with 39 splendidly decorated rooms, artistic gardens, boats and carriages…and a view to die for!
The present decor of Glensheen is almost identical to what it originally had been. We were first escorted by our lively guide to tour the Congdon boys’ rooms on the third floor and then we moved on to explore the girls’ chambers on second floor. The ground floor was the most magnificent, furnished with exquisite valuables everywhere. The sunlit Lake peeped at us through most of the rooms.
Every nook and corner of this mansion is worth a deep study!
The luxurious bathrooms were attached to most of the rooms and had stylish fittings.
We also met Evelyn, the almost 100 year old doll (with goat’s hair), belonging to one of the girls in the family.
The servants had their own rooms and dining space. The formal dining space was gorgeous and so was the breakfast room. I even pictured myself as one of the ladies of the mansion, wearing an embroidered gown, sipping tea from a carved silver cup in the breakfast room!
We went up to the attic with the guide and learnt more about Chester and Clara Congdon’s rare arts and book collection.
It is important to mention that an unfortunate incident happened here in June 1977. It involved the murders of Elisabeth Congdon, the youngest daughter of Clara and Chester Congdon, and her nurse Velma Pietila. The tragedy is not discussed during the tours in honour of the Congdon family legacy. However, several books have been written on the suspenseful murders.
As we strolled outdoor along the trails, landscaped gardens and water bodies surrounding the mansion, the morning air filled us with delight. My kids loved exploring the ‘castle’ while dear husband took some gorgeous pictures.
When it was time to bid goodbye to the lovely mansion…nostalgia for the bygone era filled me. I felt hard to tear myself away from romance and history and come back to present. I felt as if we had become a part of the history!
We moved on to view other jewels in and around Duluth along the shores of Lake Superior – The Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls, Aerial Lift Bridge, Maritime Visitor Centre.
On our way back home to Minneapolis from this memorable trip, the unpredictable Lake Superior took on the role of a gracious hostess, meandering with us for a while to keep us company…before disappearing out of sight…!