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Glensheen has lost some of its sheen; repairs will cost millions

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After a century or so, those Lake Superior breezes start to take their toll – even on one of Minnesota's best known historic mansions.

The people who care for Glensheen say parts of the historic estate in Duluth are literally falling apart – and the work needed to shore up the popular tourist attraction will cost millions.

Glensheen was completed in 1908 for mining magnate Chester Congdon and his wife Clara. After their last surviving child, Elisabeth Congdon, was famously murdered in the mansion in 1977 the estate was donated to the University of Minnesota and the historic home opened as a museum in 1979.

Now UMD is turning to the state for the money needed to repair the estate. Glensheen's marketing manager told WDIO this week their request is for $26 million but $8 million is needed fixes that need immediate attention.

Those include walls in the formal garden that are close to falling down and the boathouse (above), which is the only one of its kind on Lake Superior.

The Let's Save Glensheen page on their website says half of the pier has been swallowed by Lake Superior, meaning waves now crash directly into the boathouse, which is no longer structurally sound.

In even numbered years the Legislature typically approves money for state construction and maintenance to be paid for by issuing bonds.

Often called the "bonding bill," neither the House nor the Senate has yet come out with the list of projects they propose funding this year.

Repairs to Glensheen were not included in the $1.4 billion worth of projects Gov. Mark Dayton proposed.

Sen. Roger Reinert of Duluth is pushing to have the estate's request included in the bonding bill, the Star Tribune reports.

Deterioration of the building and grounds have not hurt Glensheen's popularity as a tourist attraction. Its marketing manager told WDIO the number of visitors has doubled in three years and the Star Tribune says 100,000 people toured the 39-room mansion last year.

You can make a donation to Glensheen here.

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