Restoration work at Glensheen reveals original walls that have never been seen before

For 40 years, the walls were covered by white paint.
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Another room at the historic Glensheen Mansion in Duluth is being restored back to its original look.

For the past 40 years, the walls of Alfred's room (the Congdon's nephew) have been covered by white, acrylic paint, a Facebook post says. But now we're getting the chance to see what the room looked like when the home was first built in the early 1900s.

Conservators from the Midwest Art Conservation Center started pealing back the paint on Monday, and underneath it is hand-drawn stenciling that's never been seen before. You can see a bunch of photos of the work here, and historic photos of the room here.

Glensheen says the stenciling was painted over around the time the Glensheen estate was donated to the University of Minnesota Duluth (back in 1979). Apparently the Congdon family's staff told the university stenciling was out of date and looked cheap, so it should be covered up.

Restoring this room to make it historically accurate was possible through private donations and ticket sales for tours, Glensheen said, noting in the Facebook post it's "something many on staff thought they would never see happen."

Crews are expected to be done with the work by the end of the week, and the public will be able to see Alfred's room – which is on the third floor – on the full mansion tour and the premier tours, Jane Pederson of Glensheen Mansion told GoMN.

For more on Alfred's room, click here.

More on the Congdons

The Congdon family was one of the most influential families in Duluth, known for opening up iron mining in the area, as well as dedicating land for public use.

Back in the early 1900s, Chester Congdon and his wife Clara decided to build an estate overlooking Lake Superior. The 39-room home on 12 acres was completed in 1908. They lived there with their seven children, as well as Alfred Bannister, their nephew who was orphaned when he was 6 years old.

Glensheen Mansion became infamous in Minnesota following the 1977 murders of heiress Elisabeth Congdon (one of Chester and Clara's daughters) and her night nurse.

The estate – and everything inside the home – had been willed to the University of Minnesota Duluth, which has worked to preserve and restore the property. It's also open for public tours. And over the years, more and more rooms have been made available for the public to see.

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