Glensheen reconstruction repairs the estate and community

Glensheen Mansion on Sept. 30, 2018. Museum Director Dan Hartman is working on keeping Glensheen as accessible to the public as possible. Photo by Zack Benz

Glensheen Mansion on Sept. 30, 2018. Museum Director Dan Hartman is working on keeping Glensheen as accessible to the public as possible. Photo by Zack Benz

Editor’s Note: A previous version of the story made it seem like Glensheen was reaching out to Minnesota legislation for funds in the future. However, that is not correct, and the mistake has been fixed.

Glensheen has been undergoing reconstruction. To increase safety for visitors and keep the history intact, there are also future construction plans.

“There’s a lot of really awesome potential here,” Glensheen Museum Director Dan Hartman said.

A recent reconstruction project has been the servants’ porch on the northern side of the mansion. They had to repair the mortar, the material in between the bricks, to make it more sturdy. Due to the tedious task the project cost half a million dollars, but Hartman does not think the public will notice the repairs.

“It was in a state of collapse,” Hartman said. “So not only was it a good thing to do, it was absolutely necessary.”

Dan Hartman, the museum director at Glensheen, standing in front of the mansion on Oct. 6, 2018. Hartman has been the director since 2013. Photo by Rebecca Kottke

Dan Hartman, the museum director at Glensheen, standing in front of the mansion on Oct. 6, 2018. Hartman has been the director since 2013. Photo by Rebecca Kottke

There are other parts of the estate that need attention as well, which is why there are many other projects planned.

These include fixing the steps in the vegetable garden, restoring the stucco on the top half of the carriage house, and Hartman’s favorite, restoring the Tischer Creek trail system.

“The long-term goal is to bring back the original trail,” Hartman said. “As a Duluthian, you could hike down Congdon Park and end up down here [by the mansion] and watch the sunset at the lake. It will really make Glensheen feel like a city park… Duluthians will really feel like Glensheen is their park.”

To get money for the projects the team at Glensheen has been working on fundraising money. The Minnesota legislature has agreed to give Glensheen $4 million to help with their projects, and they are planning on reaching out to others to match this funding in the next month, according Hartman.

“We are trying to fundraise $4 million in matching money in the state legislation that passed in May,” Hartman said. “If that comes through, then the entire garden will be redone: all the walls. That’s nearly a $3 million project.”

They would also work on doing a second boiler room in the main house, fixing more of the interior in both the mansion and the carriage house, Hartman continued to explain. The total cost for those projects would be $8 million.

The servants’ porch on the northern side of Glensheen undergoing reconstruction on Sept. 30, 2018. Most interactions in the 1900s between the community and Glensheen where between the servants and citizens of Duluth on that porch. Photo by Brianna Taggart

The servants’ porch on the northern side of Glensheen undergoing reconstruction on Sept. 30, 2018. Most interactions in the 1900s between the community and Glensheen where between the servants and citizens of Duluth on that porch. Photo by Brianna Taggart

The reason for the high cost of construction is due in part it being a historical building but has more to do with who is in charge of the the construction itself, according to Hartman.

“Everyone who works here is a University of Minnesota employee,” Hartman said. “So, any construction we do, small or large, has to go through the U of M, which is good and bad. [The high standards] is why projects sometimes have a significantly higher cost, and people always blame that on the historic nature.”

Hartman appreciates the group of people working at Glensheen. He said that he does not think they would have been able to do the work they have done if not for their young team who has been “willing to do so much change and think of such innovative stuff.”

Jane Pedersen, marketing manager at Glensheen, is also proud of the work they have done for the museum.  

“I think the restoration that has been happening is wonderful,” Pedersen said. “These projects are allowing Glensheen to truly stand the test of time so that the story can be shared for generations to come. The restoration enables Glensheen to better share Minnesota's mansion with the community.”

Another Glensheen employee, tour guide and UMD student Rachel Wachtler, also believes that the restoration is good for the community.

“The reconstruction didn’t really affect our tours because it was mostly outside,” Wachtler said. “I think most people in my experience even liked seeing the construction going on because it shows we are working to preserve history.”

NewsBrianna Taggart