The staff at Glensheen recently re-unearthed in the attic of the mansion film footage of the Congdon family trips and time spent at home. These videos have been digitized, and some of them are posted on the historic estate’s YouTube channel.
“It’s been amazing to see,” said Lori Melton, Glensheen’s director of marketing. “We’re such fanatics about anything related to the history of Glensheen. To actually see the trips we’ve read about or the family members interacting with each other has been incredible.”
The site has three videos, including footage from a trip to Egypt, a trip to France and a trip to Tucson.
Congdon history buffs like former tour manager Amy Degerstrom have viewed the footage and tried to date it according to period fashions, journal entries by family members and the style of film used to shoot the footage.
Degerstrom said in an analysis that the Paris footage is likely from the 1910s, early 1920s. The films from Brest, France, show hats with ribbons that indicate a special holiday or Sunday services were held that day.
Josiah Grover, a film student who was on staff at the mansion, wrote that the footage from France was filmed by someone experienced and knowledgeable about films, as the person has a steady hand and is able to understand the intricacies of a hand-crank camera. It could be a copy that Chester requested from someone traveling with the family, or it could be by someone in the family.
Footage from Tucson is from the early 1940s and the description information says that Helen Congdon lived in Tucson and that Elisabeth would go there to paint with David Erickson.
Melton said there are two more videos that could be added to the site. One would require permission from the family, the other would need editing.