Glensheen celebrates completion of $3.5 million restoration
Duluth's Glensheen Mansion is celebrating the completion of $3.5 million in restoration work today. Completed over the course of three years since the 2012 flood, the landscaping and rebuilding of walls have helped the estate move closer to its o...
Duluth's Glensheen Mansion is celebrating the completion of $3.5 million in restoration work today.
Completed over the course of three years since the 2012 flood, the landscaping and rebuilding of walls have helped the estate move closer to its original 1907 plan, said Glensheen director Dan Hartman.
"It's kind of a weird ordeal but honestly, we're learning a whole new bit of the history of Glensheen through the project, because as you start taking down these walls, we're learning ... of the high level of craftsmanship that really took to build this place," Hartman said.
Although the 2012 flood caused significant damage to the grounds of the estate, it led to funding for restoration from a number of sources: the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the State of Minnesota, insurance and the city of Duluth, as well as the University of Minnesota - which owns Glensheen.
In late 2014, Glensheen received its first money from the city's tourism tax collections - $50,000 in operation dollars, followed two months later by an additional $100,000. The money went toward finishing the servant's garden wall on the northwest corner of the mansion.
Tourism tax is collected through money spent on rooms at hotels and motels, as well as food and beverages at restaurants in the city. The tourism tax collections are then allocated to specific causes such as tourism marketing and to various attractions such as Glensheen, according to Duluth Chief Administrator Officer Dave Montgomery. That money also helped open the door for further funding, he said.
"This fairly modest tourism tax commitment by the city really helped break free significant statewide University of Minnesota dollars to enhance Glensheen and take on long-needed upgrade and long-needed restoration work," Montgomery said.
Hartman said receiving the tourism tax from the city has helped Glensheen obtain more funding sources because it shows stability in the organization.
"So for a lot of folks, who have been looking at funding Glensheen, they didn't know how stable Glensheen was and to see a community partner for the first time really provide ... we needed that," Hartman said.
Montgomery said the city will commit an additional $50,000 each year in tourism tax collections to Glensheen.
Looking forward, there's no shortage of restoration projects Hartman wants done. He identified failing walls on the northwest corner that could damage the mansion's structure if they collapsed. Additionally, the walls holding back the garden and the boat house need extensive work, he said.
"We really turned what would have been a tragedy for Glensheen really into a turning point for really transforming the future of Glensheen," said Hartman, who estimates attendance to have actually increased by 30 percent since the flood. "I hope ... in 20 years we can look back at that event as the event that started all this other rebuild."