May 12, 1975: Marjorie Congdon LeRoy’s home destroyed by fire

On this day in 1975, former Duluthian Marjorie Congdon LeRoy’s house at Marine-On-St. Croix, Minnesota, was destroyed by fire. The house, which she called “Homestead,” was extravagantly furnished inside and out. The lawn’s sprinkler heads were little statues of squirrels and rabbits made in Italy, and the trees held music speakers disguised as bird houses. A long, tree-lined brick driveway led to the house, and a fountain adorned the backyard. LeRoy had filled the house with antique furniture and a custom fireplace. All the hardware, including the bathroom faucets, was gold. LeRoy was suspected of starting the fire herself, but was never charged. She had moved to Colorado two weeks before the fire and within a year would marry Roger Caldwell, who was later convicted of killing her mother, Duluth heiress Elisabeth Congdon, and nurse Velma Pietila. Marjorie Congdon Caldwell was acquitted of killing her mother and Pietila but was later twice convicted of arson and spent time in Minnesota and Arizona prisons and is thought to have gotten away with at least three more murders. You can read much more about Marjorie and her many crimes here.

Marjorie Congdon’s mug shot from her 1991 arrest for arson in Ajo, Arizona. (Image: Pima County Sheriff’s Office)