It’s a calm day on Lake Superior off Duluth. How do I know this from my desk in downtown Minneapolis? Because I’ve just tuned into Glensheen Mansion’s Lake Cam. The feed, on the mansion’s website (; click on the “Tour” link), shows the expansive lake just off the pier of Glensheen.

The live cam is just one of several new ways to experience Glensheen Mansion, the 39-room family home built by Chester and Clara Congdon in the early 1900s that has been open for tours for more than 35 years.

This year, the room of the youngest son, Robert, is open for the first time. Visitors can see it as part of the “expanded tour,” which includes the third floor and attic of the mansion, areas that showcase the house’s beautiful Arts and Crafts design.

On Monday, Glensheen is launching another new opportunity: a self-guided tour, during which guests can take their time wandering the main rooms — and taking selfies to share with the world.

On Wednesday nights in July, free public concerts bring crowds to the 7-acre grounds.

The “nooks and crannies” tour offers a peek of Lake Superior from one of Clara’s favorite spots — a balcony off her dressing room. The tour also includes the second floor of the Carriage House, its hand-operated freight elevator and the boathouse. It was introduced last year in an effort to rekindle interest in the mansion, and to draw previous visitors back.

That tactic — and all the other new offerings — seem to be working. The number of visitors to Glensheen had been declining for years, in a trend reflected by house museums around the country. But those numbers are turning around; last year saw an increase of 23 percent.


Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.