Glensheen Mansion

Sitting along the shores of Lake Superior is a beautiful classic-style mansion known as the Glensheen Mansion. This well-known home is available for visitors to tour. Although the architecture and interior design is beautiful, many come to the mansion for a different reason. There are rumors that Glensheen Mansion is haunted.

A Brief History

Glensheen Mansion is a beautiful home in Duluth, former home to the Congdon family.  The Congdon’s were a wealthy family who donated a lot of time and money to various programs and charities in the Duluth area. The Congdons were respected and beloved in the community and were known for being a caring and generous family.  However, Glensheen Mansion is probably most well-known for it’s more notorious history: The double murder of Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse Velma Pietila by Elisabeth’s son-in-law.

Integration Into Current Day Tours

Upon Elisabeth Congdon’s death, ownership and control of the Glensheen Mansion were passed on to the University of Minnesota. The University aimed to maintain the home’s integrity and started offering tours. For many years, the tours given at Glensheen attempted to gloss over the murders. They would purposefully not mentioning them, even closing off the master bedroom where Elisabeth was killed from tourgoers.  Today, they are a bit more open and will answer questions regarding the murders when asked.  The master bedroom has also been restored to its former glory, and is now a part of the tour experience at Glensheen. However, the tours put more emphasis on the family and the many contributions they made to the Duluth community. As well as the many unique art and furniture pieces that decorate the home.

The question is- is the mansion haunted?

Yes, I actually asked an employee this once.  I got a bit of a smile but a definitive “no, I have never experienced anything.” However, they did add that other people have reported strange and unexplained occurrences that happened around the mansion. Employees and visitors have supposedly made reports of seeing “shadowy figures” moving about the hallways.  Guests have report suddenly feeling cold while standing on the landing of the staircase where Velma Pietila was murdered. Others have said to experience sudden feelings of sadness while standing in various parts of the home.

Having been in the home several times over the years, including a trip where I received a private tour in 2018, I have personally never experienced any sort of haunting while there.  Rather, there is a feeling of happiness in the home. Especially, in some of the family rooms and on the upper level where the boys had their bedrooms. You can tell the Congdons really loved their home.

Unique Tour Options

Glensheen recently started touching a bit on the rumors that the mansion may be haunted by offering a limited 21+ Flashlight tour (experience not available in 2020 due to COVID-19) during the month of October. Although not directly implying it’s the best opportunity to see a ghost roaming the halls of the mansion, it’s advertised as a way to appreciate the mansion’s rare collections in a new way. Many go on the tour in hopes of encounter the spirits of Elisabeth or Velma. Have you visited Haunted Glensheen Mansion and experienced something you couldn’t explain?

Listen to the 2019 edition of the Haunted North Shore Guide on the Exploring the North Shore podcast: