Glensheen Murders Still Intriguing After 40 Years

Mansion Staff Acknowledges, But Doesn't Focus on 1977 Killings

DULUTH, Minn. – Tomorrow marks the fortieth anniversary of the murders at the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth and interest in the high-profile killings is as high as ever.

On June 27, 1977 Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse were murdered in her family’s estate, the Glensheen Mansion.

The state convicted Congdon’s son-in-law of the murders, while her daughter, Marjorie Caldwell, was tried and acquitted. Forty years later, the intrigue remains surrounding the infamous killings.

“I moved here about five years ago and basically one of the first things I looked into was the murders,” says one Duluth resident.

Until 2004, it was Glensheen Mansion policy not to mention the murders to tourists. Now, according to Glensheen Director Dan Hartman, the murders are acknowledged but are not the focal point of tours.

“We really want the larger legacy of the Congdons to be better known and, honestly, it’s a pretty grim, grisly story and sometimes we really just think is inappropriate for kids,” says Hartman.

He says about thirty percent of guests tour the mansion because of interest in the crimes that occurred there.

“People who lived during the murder, they came here in the eighties and they’re not coming back because they’ve seen it once,” says Hartman. “If you come here for the murder, you generally come once. If you come here because you love a beautiful mansion on Lake Superior, you’re going to come multiple times and take multiple tours.”

Hartman says guides can talk about the murders once tours are over, as many people continue to be fascinated with them.

“People are coming in all the time asking questions about the Glensheen murders and wanting whatever information we have,” says Richmond Kinney, Adult and Technical Services Supervisor at the Duluth Public Library.

For anyone wanting to do research, the library has a big Glensheen collection.

“We have all the books that have ever been published about it. We have the newspaper clippings from the times that show from the next day when the bodies were found all the way through the trials,” says Kinney.

Duluth’s most infamous murders remain a major topic of conversation.

“Sensationalism will always sell, so part of our job is to make sure people hear the other side of the story,” says Hartman.

And after all these years, people still want to listen.

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