My name is Taylor Okeson. I recently graduated from St. Scholastica with a BA in History and in English. I have been an intern at the Glensheen for over a year now. History is one of my passions, and I am excited to have the chance to share some of my experience and research with you. This blog is the first of a series that I have created called, “Then and Now.” Each piece focuses on pictures of one room in the house from then and from now. I used comparative analysis to see what changes have been made to a room and what has stayed the same. I highlight some of the more interesting things in the blog, and then allow you to compare the pictures and see if you can spot any similarities and differences.
Over 100 years have passed and the differences between the Breakfast Room now and then are slight. Miraculously, the major changes that have taken place over time have been the arrangement of furniture. Notice, the furniture has been moved to the right to accommodate the velvet ropes for tours. Rather than lining the walls, the chairs encircle the table.
As you look through these pictures, pay attention to the plants. Obviously, the plants in the early photos no longer are living; however, the types of plants and size are significantly different. Large plants line the walls of the far side of the Breakfast Room today. In the past, the Congdon’s chose smaller plants to decorate the room. These smaller plants created a nature-like atmosphere, but also did not take away from the interior design of the room.
Looking at the view from the door leading outside, you can see that the original thermostat and light switches are still intact on the wall near the kitchen door. From this angle, you can also see that the original windows are unbroken and just as beautiful as they were a century earlier.
Looking at the picture above and some of the early pictures, you can see that the rug has changed. The rug that lies on the floor today is an original of the house and was likely used as a replacement some years after the early pictures were taken. It lies under the original table and chairs.
After looking through the pictures, notice that the early pictures are much clearer and cover a wider range than the pictures today. The very first picture offers a beautiful outside scene to accompany the decorations and capture the beauty of the Breakfast Room. The clarity of the stairs and architecture is significantly more stunning than the glare on the pictures of 2015. Standing in the farthest corner of the room with the lens zoomed out as far as possible still does not create pictures that cover as much of the room as the early photos. We are grateful that such beautiful pictures still exist.
It is rare for a house this old to look anything like it did in its prime. We are lucky at the Glensheen to have rooms that are undamaged with original pieces.