Construction of the Glensheen Mansion began in 1905 and was completed a year later. At the time, the house was situation in a more rural area and the Congdons wanted to preserve the natural landscape as much as possible. All of the utilities were built underground, so as to not ruin the aesthetic of the landscaped grounds. The Congdons wanted the estate to be self-sufficient, which is why they wanted the greenhouse, vegetable garden, cow barn, water reservoir, and orchard.
Chester and Clara had 7 children, one of whom died when he was a baby. Two of their children, Elisabeth and Robert, 14 and 10 respectively at the time the house was finished, were still young enough to have some years growing up in the home. After Chester passed away in 1916, Clara and Elisabeth continued to live at the house. Clara died in 1950. Elisabeth eventually adopted two daughters, Marjorie and Jennifer. Elisabeth lived at the mansion until 1977, when she and her nurse were murdered by Robert Caldwell, Marjorie's second husband. The mansion was donated to the University of Minnesota in 1968 and opened as a museum to the public in 1979.