Monday, September 18, 2017

10 Things You May Not Know About the Oldenburg House in Carlton

At the end of July I attempted to convey some of the wonder I experienced during an evening at the Oldenburg House in Carlton. Since that time I've been doing a little research about the place and the people who have lived here. It's a pretty fascinating history. I serve this up today as the backstory for future events I hope to write about that will be taking place here. 

1. A Historic Home
In December 2006 the Henry C. Oldenburg House was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1894 it was the home of Henry and Mary Oldenburg.

2. Built by an Early Conservationist 
Henry Oldenburg got his law degree in Madison. He first began writing about protecting our forests as early as 1876.

3. He Helped Create Jay Cooke State Park
Henry Oldenburg became a lawyer for the Weyerhaeuser lumber interests and a respected conservationist. When in 1915 the St. Louis Power Company, now MN Power, wanted to set aside 2,350 acres for the state to become a state park, the State insisted that $18,000 in back taxes be paid. It was here in the Oldenburg House that Henry Oldenburg gathered a group of businessmen to pay those back taxes on the property. Adjusted for inflation, that $18K would be $435,000 today. To honor him, the most fabulous vista in the park has been named after him, Oldenburg Point, and a boulder monument placed there to acknowledge his historic contribution. His other achievements include the installation of Carlton as the County Seat, and heading up rescue and recovery efforts after the 1918 fire.

4. His Wife Played a Significant Role in the Community
Mary Oldenburg was a person of significance in her own right. According to a 2007 Pine Journal story, she "hosted many social occasions at the home that were often related to her many civic and social engagements. Documents say she was a well-educated woman who was involved in the establishment of local and traveling libraries, and that she and their daughter, Margaret, may have helped inspire the work to create Jay Cooke State Park, among other projects." According to one second-hand source it is believed she was a suffragette, on the cutting edge of women's rights. 

5. Perfect Location for a Home 
The house, built in the Classical Revival style, sits on property that is adjacent to Jay Cooke State Park, the Willard Munger State Trail and walking distance from the National Kayak & Canoe Center, and the Thompson Reservoir.

6. Up to the Present Only Three Families Have Lived Here
Henry and Mary Oldenburg owned the home from 1894 to 1931. Alfred and Rosina Lee purchased the home in 1931. Lee was County Sheriff and owned a lumber yard in Carlton. Les and Helen Swanson bought the property in 1968. Leslie, a steel guitar player, began renovating the property to revive its original mystique, thus contributing to its becoming a national treasure in 2006. After Les' passing the B&B idea was birthed, with Glenn and Emily Swanson becoming the new owners, keeping it all in the family. This trio of Swansons -- Glenn, Emily and "Mama" (Helen) -- are the spices and seasoning that make visiting here so extra special.

7. Today, a Bed & Breakfast
Oldenburg House opened as a bed and breakfast in January 2013 after being certified in September 2012. Though there are at least six other B&Bs in Duluth, the Oldenburg House is the only one that sits on the edge of Eden. Several of the others are situated in East Duluth, impressive upscale homes from Duluth's early mining history. 

8. Perfect Setting for a Wedding
You cannot imagine a better place to hold your Wedding of a Lifetime. Next Sunday, September 24th from 2:00 - 5:00 pm Oldenburg House and the Swansons are hosting a Wedding Showcase featuring wedding professionals and vendors associated with making memorable wedding experiences. If you're an engaged couple who hasn't yet finalized the where and when, or related to friends and/or family who you think may one day be tying the knot, you might want to RSVP here and experience the magic first-hand.

9. Cookin' at the O in the New Carlton Room
The Carlton Room is billing itself as "a performance space with a nightclub atmosphere in a historic house and timeless setting." It's major league jazz/blues artistry and cuisine magic. Once a month "Cookin' at the O" will inspire you with certified satisfaction. There's chemistry here that has to be experienced to be believed. Yes, everything I am saying sounds a bit like hyperbole, but that's only because words are insufficient to describe what they aspire to. Next event is the weekend of September 29. There are still tickets available, here.

10. Find Your Nature
One of my favorite features of the Oldenburg story is the Motto or Slogan that Glenn and Emily have selected for the place: Find Your Nature. Like many things in life, it's what you make it. Life itself is a process of discovery. The more we learn about the world around us, the more we discover who we are. 

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Bonus Tracks
If you do happen to make is out here, Mama is a huge Minnesota Twins fan. Just letting you know.

Also, a couple years ago I came down and spent the day on one of the porches reworking one of my book manuscripts. This house is a perfect getaway for writers and artists. Again, just sayin'.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. If you need an escape, Oldenburg House is here waiting at Eden's edge.

Photos courtesy Kelly Rae Studio.

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