Photography Series Features Small Details inside Historic Mansion

Northland Uncovered: Hidden Glensheen

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DULUTH, Minn. – The Historic Glensheen Estate is known for its rich history, including playing host to famous artwork and architecture.

A local photographer is now capturing the details sometimes overlooked on tours.

“There’s something almost in every drawer, in every cabinet, in every nook and cranny,” said Collections Manager Melissa Brooks-Ojibway.

“For me, photography is an opportunity for us to stop, to take a pause and to really soak something in,” photographer Bryan French explained.

The effort, titled Hidden Glensheen, started in May as French and Brooks-Ojibway scoured cabinets, drawers and closets for hidden gems.

“We pull out things and we’re just sort of surprised sometimes,” said Brooks-Ojibway.

“Most people don’t have the time to stop and look at the newspapers that are on the table or to really soak in the artwork that’s up on the walls,” said French.

Focusing on the finer details is something French learned watching his father build houses as he grew up.

“With Glensheen, once you see something you’re like “oh look at that!” and then “oh look it leads to oh my gosh” and everything leads to something else,” French said.

Now French’s passion is telling the stories behind the story, “We were opening a cookbook, looking through some of the recipes that they were using and we found notes written in Norwegian.”

Finding little notes weren’t the only highlights during this six month process.

“One of the things that’s been really surprising and rewarding is the level of involvement that the Congdon family had in the city of Duluth,” said French.

He says it gives him a better sense of the family’s strong connections to this community.

“When you just have a surface knowledge of anything you might appreciate it on a very shallow level; you might appreciate it and think “well that’s nice.” The more you know about something, the more rooted you are,” French said.

Brooks-Ojibway has grown closer to the Congdons by discovering the normalcy she believes they valued, “The Congdons were great and wonderful and important for Minnesota, but they were also still a family.”

If you’d like to view the Hidden Glensheen photos, head to

Categories: Community, Features, News, Northland Uncovered