Glensheen Historic Estate – Duluth, Minnesota - Atlas Obscura

Glensheen Historic Estate

This posh mansion began as a family's estate and ended as the site of a murder ripped from the pages of a pulp novel. 


The Glensheen Historic Estate is an architectural marvel of the early 20th Century that was host to a grisly double murder worthy of any parlor mystery.

The mansion was built in 1905 by Chester A. Congdon for his family. It featured luxuries such as a beautiful green dining room adorned with tiles from a company that no longer exists and a fireplace made from a rare red marble only found in Africa. But more than the posh amenities, a sensational double-murder attracts tourists to the home today.

On the night of June 22, 1977, Elisabeth Congdon, Chester’s only surviving daughter, was smothered to death with a pink satin pillow. She was eighty-three years old and partially paralyzed at the time of her death. In addition, her nurse, Velma Pietila, was clubbed to death with a candlestick holder in the stairwell leading to Elisabeth’s room. Many attribute the murders to Elisabeth’s adoptive daughter, Majorie Congdon, and her husband, Roger Caldwell, who stood to inherit Elisabeth’s fortune. 

The mansion is currently owned by the University of Minnesota Duluth, and tours are provided. As of the past few years, photos are now allowed and encouraged inside the mansion. A photo badge and photo tour is available to meet all of your mansion photo needs. 

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