This spring Glensheen used monies earned from tour sales from the prior year, plus private donations and we were able to restore two spaces that have a shocking change from what they looked like before.

1. Alfred’s Room

We hired conservators from the Midwest Art Conservation Center to come up to Glensheen to work their magic and remove the white latex paint that had covered the hand-drawn stenciling in Alfred’s Room. To watch it unfold seemed almost magical. You just didn’t expect the stenciling to look as good as it does.

How did they do it?

They used an heavy organic solvent, which would be pressed into the latex paint. After some work the latex paint slowly came off, but the original hand-drawn stencil work which was an oil based paint would not.

So here is the photo montage highlighting the shocking change.


Notice that you can not see any stencil work. The middle section is just white.

According to oral history the stenciling was painted over around 1977.


Slowly, the paint is removed to reveal the original stenciling.

As you can tell… it is remarkably better. The room now has more of an Arts & Crafts feel which is more fitting to the rest of the Boys floor.

2. Basement Floors

For past visitors to Glensheen this has been the most shocking change of this spring. At the end of every tour, it would end in the Amusement Room. Which was one of the most heavily used rooms by the family. At one point it was where they celebrated Christmas. It was where Helen Congdon held dance parties with her friends.

Today it is the room used for public functions from lecture series to movie events to small cocktail reception.

Yet…the flooring always looked out of place. Because it was. The wall to wall red rug was installed in 1979 as a way to handle events and tour traffic. But it was never meant to be there for nearly forty years.

After much discussion, we decided to go back to the historic look of the room for two primary reasons. 1. It is always our goal to match the authentic look of the home in 1910. 2. It is a lot easier and better to clean wine and other things off of a hardwood floor than to let it soak into the rug and then into the hardwood.

In order to make this a reality. We needed to cover all of the basement in plastic from floor to ceiling. It was not a small undertaking. Thanks to UMD Facilities Management for doing such a great job.


The red carpet dominates the room.


Taped off to protect the rest of the house and collection, workers meticulously restore the original floors.


On top of that…this gave us an excuse to do a deep clean of all the historic art glass lights throughout these spaces. In other words — the amazing glasswork has never looked this good.