Glensheen has some pretty cool tours. It’s really just a fact. But in my mind, none of them can top the Nooks & Crannies tour.

This is a tour that brings guests behind the museum rope and rug and invites them to spaces that are typically never open to the public. The tour includes the upper level of the carriage house, where the Congdon’s carriages and sleighs are still stored today, along with an extensive collection of Congdon family treasures.

 

Honestly, the carriages themselves could be their own tour, especially when you consider the fact that this impressive collection was only one of the modes of transportation the Congdons had at their disposal.

The lift system, which was used to transport carriages and other heavy items from the main level of the building to the upper level, is also displayed on this tour.


While exploring the carriage house, guests will also make stops in the hayloft, which opens up to one of the property’s best views (aside from the porta-potties).

Guests also get an exclusive look at some of the mansion’s original appliances. This hunk of metal is the home’s original central vacuum, which was moved to the carriage house and now lives among the carriages.

While the carriages themselves are pretty interesting, there are a few gems hidden in the storage room that tie Glensheen’s history as a family home to the history of Duluth, including a barrel from Fitger’s Brewing Co., one of Duluth’s best-known landmarks.

Guests will also see an original Poirier Tent & Awning Co. canvas tent. If this company doesn’t sound familiar to you, it’s likely due to the fact that it has since evolved into Duluth Pack, another Duluth staple.

Certain items in this collection also tie the Congdon’s to some national trends as well, including this emergency supply of drinking water distributed by the Department of Defense, dated 1962.

The Nooks tour also brings guests through the family’s automobile garage, because yes, the Congdons did have cars when they moved into the home.

And while we do not have any of the cars the Congdons drove around Duluth in 1910, we do have some pretty neat collectors’ pieces in this space, including this Mercury Arc Rectifier. This is a charger for an electric (yes, electric!) car that belonged to the family in the early 20th century, and is one of the few in existence today.
Before venturing up to the house, guests also get to enter the property’s boathouse, which is in the process of getting somewhat of a facelift.

While the inside may not be the prettiest view on the estate, the Boathouse is in much better shape than it was just a few months ago, when the interior of the building was overtaken by rock and rubble from years of Lake Superior storms.

Guests will also get a narrated walkthrough of the formal gardens, including the story of how the iconic fountain was designed (three separate times).

Once inside, guests get a look at the inner-workings of the mansion by touring the home’s boiler room.

Again, this is not the most glamorous space in the home, but it does give an idea of what it takes to maintain a 39-room mansion (hint: lots of valves for air, and lots of pipes for water).

The boiler room is any plumber’s dream.

This room also includes a ginormous water tank that would have gone underneath London Road and the entrance to a tunnel system that was used to haul coal from the entrance of the estate to the boiler room.

The tunnel system has mostly been blocked off, but you can still take a step into what is arguably Glensheen’s creepiest space (if you dare).

While there are tons of secret cabinets and hidden spaces inside the mansion you’ll also get to explore, I’m not going to show those to you here so as not to ruin the surprise (plus they’re really much cooler in person).

Nooks & Crannies tours have no specific order to them, but I always try to plan mine out to save my absolute favorite spot for last: Clara’s balcony.

Along with being one of the most exclusive spaces at Glensheen, the balcony also has the best view on the property, and is the best way to close out any Nooks & Crannies tour.

If you think you’ve seen all Glensheen has to offer, you really need to take a Nooks & Crannies tour. This is a tour that was designed for returning guests, and is meant to wow.

To purchase Nooks & Crannies tickets, visit glensheen.org