August 28, 1903: Chester and Clara Congdon measure their new property along Tischer Creek 

On this day in Duluth in 1903, Chester and Clara Congdon began measuring property for the site of their family estate. In her diary she noted, “Chester and I went to Tischer’s Creek to measure the place for a home.” Two years earlier Clara had been dreaming about a new home. Her journal entry is marked “first plans of the new house,” but this was more of a wish list, not an architect’s drawing. In 1903 Chester started buying up land along the Lake Superior shore just east of tiny Scandia Cemetery off London Road, about two miles east of downtown roughly between 33rd and 35th Avenues East. Two streams ran through the property, Tischer Creek (then called “Tischer’s Creek”) near its western border and Bent Brook roughly at the center. The property stretched from the lake shore north about a quarter of a mile—London Road sliced right through it. If living so close to a cemetery bothered Clara, she didn’t show it; family members have often repeated the anecdote that the Congdon matriarch reportedly said, “At least I’ll have quiet neighbors.” The Congdons planned to ask the architect to place the house between the creeks, with views of the much larger Tischer a priority. Chester had a name in mind for the estate: Glensheen. The first half was for the deep ravines Tischer Creek had carved along its shores, the second half for the sheen of its glimmering waters and, as many have suggested, perhaps for his family’s ancestral home of Sheen, England. Read much more about Glensheen here and about Duluth’s Congdon family here. And click the titles to preview Zenith City Press’s Glensheen: The Official Guide to Duluth’s Historic Congdon Estate and Historic Glensheen 1905–1930: Photographs from the Congdon Estate’s first 25 Years.

The front façade of the main house of Glensheen, Duluth’s historic Congdon family estate, photographed ca. 1910. (Image: Glensheen Historic Estate)