Glensheen Mansion, a Beaux-Arts redbrick behemoth in Duluth, has been drawing more visitors in recent years. That is not an easy accomplishment for what could be seen as simply a stuffy old house museum.
But forget old and stuffy.
The latest innovative offering at Glensheen is its own version of Night at the Museum — with drinks and food trucks.
On Oct. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m., Glensheen will be open for free to showcase $6 million in recent repairs (info at glensheen.org). Visitors can roam the mansion; guides will be on hand to answer questions. When the tour ends, buy a drink from a cash bar in the home’s lower level and grab a snack from one of the food trucks parked outside the carriage house. How’s that for a modern twist on a classic home?
The 39-room mansion on the Lake Superior waterfront was built as the family home of mining mogul Chester Congdon and his wife, Clara. Completed in 1908, it cost $854,000 (all that craftsmanship came at a price). Congdon’s daughter Elisabeth was murdered in the house in 1977, along with her nurse, Velma Pietila, a lurid part of the house’s history. It now belongs to the University of Minnesota Duluth, which opened it to the public in 1979.
In recent years, the museum has grown visitor numbers by opening new areas, including a balcony off Clara’s dressing room, son Robert’s room with a flight of birds painted on the wall, and the garage, which was used to house the Congdons’ electric car. Yep, electric.
Night at the Museum seems another way to garner interest from a crowd that may not be their usual customer: millennials.
In 2015, the estate had more than 100,000 visitors; this year, as many or more will come.
Can’t get there on Thursday? Consider the Christmas tour, which launches on Black Friday. There won’t be food trucks, but you can enjoy shortbread cookies, made using Clara’s recipe.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.