Two mansions of Minnesota lumber barons are popular destination for reunions, weddings
17 May 2023
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Imagine spending the night in a turn-of-the-century lumber baron's mansion. Well, now you can do exactly that.
"Every year there are folks that stop by and say I've lived here my whole life and I've never been here," said Julia Mueller, executive director for Linden Hill Historic Estate. Her group is responsible for preserving and sharing the history of the estate in Little Falls.
On a hill overlooking the mighty Mississippi sit two mansions. A white home belonged to Drew Musser, and a green one belonged to Charles Weyerhaeuser.
In the late 1800's the two men were lumber barons and good friends. So much so that they built mansions next to each other. And that's not all they built.
"There's a carriage house and a barn and another carriage garage," said Mueller.
Their families lived here happily, for decades. When the Weyerhaeusers left, they essentially gave their mansion to the Mussers. By 1989, the families were gone and both homes were vacant. But that doesn't mean they were empty.
The green mansion has been turned into a museum, and pretty much everything you see is as it was 120 years ago. In fact, 95% of the furnishings are original.
"We actually have over 15 sets of their dishes," said Mueller.
Each room offers a story of its own, but the basement tends to stand out for other reasons.
When the Mussers took over the Weyerhaeuser home, they brought over a little bit of Hollywood. The family was good friends with L. Frank Baum, who wrote "The Wizard of Oz."
Laura Jane Musser developed a friendship with Margaret Hamilton - the actress best known as the Wicked Witch of the West. According to Mueller, they went to Hawaii together a number of times.
A stopover next door is another step back in time. Except that the white mansion is more a hands-on experience.
"We pretty much give you the front door keys and you have full reign of this beautiful 12,00 square foot mansion," said Angela Imdieke, assistant director.
Family reunions, high school reunions, and even wedding parties frequently rent out the mansion, and the music room is a popular place.