Glensheen is a 32,000 Sq. foot mansion that was built by Clara and Chester Congdon in 1908, today it is run by the University of Minnesota Duluth and is open for tours, weddings, and some awesome events. Today we are going to dive into one of the most fabulous rooms in the mansion, the living room.

William A. French was one of the most highly regarded interior designers during the time Glensheen was built (Between 1906 and 1909). Chester Congdon was the the Vice President of Wm. A. French & Co. and commissioned the company to design and manufacture almost every room in this house. The living room is a great example of the design and the well-crafted furniture and design of the times.

Steinway Piano

One of the first things we would like to highlight about the living room is the custom built Steinway piano. The French & Co. designed the legs for the Steinway Parlor piano so that they would match the design of the other mahogany pieces in the room. These legs bring together the design of the table, sofa, and music cabinet. The Steinway was custom built and is still regularly tuned today. Around the holiday seasons a University of Minnesota Duluth student comes and plays holiday music to be recorded and then played during Christmas tours.

Numidian Marble Fireplace

The centerpiece of the living room is a gorgeous burnt orange fireplace made of Numidian marble. Numidian marble was the most popular marble used by Roman builders who wanted to showcase their wealth. In the J. Paul Getty museum’s collection of essays entitled Marble: Art Historical and Scientific Perspectives on Ancient Sculpture they reference the cost of green Thessalian marble in 310 A.D. as 150 denari per cubic foot; there were only four types of marble that cost more than this and Numidian marble was among those. During Roman times there was a time when a denarius was equal to a day’s wage. So one cubic foot of Numidian marble would have cost more than 150 days of work! Safe to say that the Congdon’s spared no expense when building their home.

Paris by Day Paris by Night

This is an intricate lamp with a shade that showcased a Paris street scene during the day when the lamp is off. When the lamp is turned on the lamp shade comes to life as lights shines through the windows, street lights, storefronts, and signs.

Living Room Light

This lamp is an alabaster light that was purchased from A. Olivetty & Co., Florence, Italy — 1911 for $220. We don’t know much about this particular lamp but its complex design makes it a living room favorite for many guests.

Yoro Waterfall by Naraga Yozo.

This art piece can be found on an easel in the living room. It was acquired by Chester in Japan in 1914. The artist Naraga Yozo used silk and embroidery techniques to depict the Yoro waterfall found in the providence of Mino.

We Hope To See You Soon

To learn more about Glensheen and things to do in Duluth head to To learn about our various events and tour options head to, we look forward to your visit!