Visitors to Duluth's historic Glensheen mansion are now allowed to take photographs inside

  • Updated: July 25, 2013 - 5:25 PM
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Duluth attorney Chester Congdon built Glensheen for his family; the Jacobean mansion was completed in 1908.

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DULUTH, Minn. — For the first time in 33 years, visitors to the historic Glensheen mansion in Duluth are being allowed to take photographs inside.

Glensheen belongs to the University of Minnesota Duluth and opened to the public in 1979.

It's one of Duluth's most popular tourist attractions — drawing more than 60,000 visitors annually — and its history includes one of Minnesota' notorious murder cases.

Photography had been banned inside because it slowed tours down and distracted visitors from the experience, interim director Dan Hartman told the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/1bR4EYz ).

"It was important to keep tours on time," he said.

But Hartman and his staff learned when they started asking around that Glensheen was one of only three similar historic houses in the Midwest that didn't allow photography.

"There are some amazing things to photograph in the house," Hartman said. "It greatly enhances everyone's experience."

Glensheen was built on Lake Superior for the family of mining mogul Chester Congdon between 1905 and 1908 at a cost of $854,000. It was bequeathed to the university in 1968. Congdon's daughter Elisabeth was murdered in the house in 1977, along with her nurse, Velma Pietila.

While the estate has officially lifted the photography ban, guides may reinstate it to keep a tour on schedule. Flash photography, videos and panoramas still aren't permitted.

Glensheen is launching a new social media contest for amateur photographers. Visitors can post their photos to Glensheen's Facebook page, and the shot that gets the most "likes" by Labor Day will win $500.

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