Glasgow’s Tenement House

Glasgow's Tenement House

It’s day 82 of my 100-day trip to Europe, and I’m in Glasgow, revisiting a great, if offbeat, museum. Something I love about my work: I get the joy of reviewing lots of sights and choosing which ones make it into the guidebook and TV show. While heavily advertised commercial gimmicks like wax museums, torture dungeons, and brewery tours attract hordes of tourists, other sights that take you back in time and connect you intimately with a bygone lifestyle get only a few thoughtful travelers. Some of my highly recommended sights — like the Tenement House in Glasgow (see my description below, excerpted from my Scotland guidebook) — may make people say “Huh!?” But they’re the sights that might just make your day.

I also love the similar museums in Copenhagen (the National Museum’s Victorian Apartment), in England’s Cotswolds (the Earl of Wemyss’ Stanway House), and in Paris (Jacquemart-André Museum).

Which lesser-known sights in Europe have given you that fun, intimate, time-warp experience?

Tenement House
Here’s a chance to drop into a perfectly preserved 1930s-era middle-class residence. The National Trust for Scotland bought this otherwise ordinary row home, located in a residential neighborhood, because of the peculiar tendencies of Miss Agnes Toward (1886-1975). For five decades, she kept her home essentially unchanged. The kitchen calendar is still set to 1935, and canisters of licorice powder (a laxative) still sit on the bathroom shelf. It’s a time-warp experience, where Glaswegian old-timers enjoy coming to reminisce about how they grew up.

Ring the doorbell to be let in. Explore the four little rooms. Imagine a world without electricity (Miss Toward was a late adapter, making the leap to electricity only in 1960). Ask about the utility of the iron stove. Ponder the importance of that drawer full of coal and how that stove heated her entire world. Ask why the bed is in the kitchen. As you look through the rooms laced with Victorian trinkets — such as the ceramic dogs on the living room’s fireplace mantle — consider how different they are from Mackintosh’s stark, minimalist designs from the same period

Cost and Hours: £6.50, April-Oct daily 13:00-17:00, July-Aug from 11:00, closed Nov-March.