Arlington News House

David Rubenstein donates lead Centennial gift of $12.35 million to the National Park Foundation to Restore Arlington House

NPS Director Jon Jarvis, David Rubenstein, Brandon Bies, and National Park Foundation President and CEO Neil Mulholland stand before a row of columns at Arlington House.
(Left to right) NPS Director Jon Jarvis, David M. Rubenstein, NPS project manager Brandon Bies, and National Park Foundation President Neil Mulholland at the announcement of Rubenstein's $12.35 million donation to restore Arlington House.
National Park Service
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News Release Date: July 17, 2014 
Contact: National Park Service: Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, 202-619-7177 
Contact: National Park Foundation: Marjorie Hall, 202-354-6480 
Gift exemplifies ‘Patriotic Philanthropy,’ as the 2016 National Park Service centennial approaches
Gift is Rubenstein’s third major donation to honor the legacy of George Washington

WASHINGTON – Today a gift made history and saved history. National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and National Park Foundation (NPF) President and CEO Neil Mulholland joined businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein to announce Rubenstein’s $12.35 million donation, a lead gift in the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, to restore and improve access to Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, located within the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

The gift complements President Obama’s Centennial Initiative for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, a multi-year effort to invest wisely in the park system’s most important assets, use parks to enhance informal learning, engage volunteers, provide training opportunities to youth and enhance the National Park Service’s ability to leverage partnerships to accomplish its mission.

“Arlington House, originally constructed to memorialize George Washington, tells America’s story from its founding, to the shame of slavery and a nation divided, to a nation again made whole,” Jarvis said. “We are honored by Mr. Rubenstein’s patriotism, his generous gift, and his dedication to the future of America’s treasures. We are eager to start the transformation that his ‘patriotic philanthropy’ will make possible.” 

When the projects are completed, visitors will see Arlington House as it was in 1860, with every room restored to its historical appearance. An important aspect of this project is to restore the slave quarters to better represent and tell the stories of the enslaved. Visitors will learn from park rangers and volunteers, or via new mobile and web assets, in addition to audio tours and changing exhibitions. As visitors move between the mansion and the new museum and bookstore, they will pass along accessible paths that stretch through the restored grounds, including heirloom gardens and new trails. People who cannot visit in person will enjoy a more robust experience through virtual tours, complete with detailed displays of the rooms and museum objects. 

Rubenstein said, “I am honored to support the National Park Service’s renovation of historic Arlington House built in honor of George Washington and located on hallowed ground atop Arlington National Cemetery. I hope that upon its restoration, Arlington House will appropriately remind visitors of America’s rich history and our country’s good fortune to have such a unique site to honor our veterans, especially those who gave the last full measure of devotion on behalf of this nation.”

The National Park Foundation, as the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner of the NPS received the gift that will make the critical projects at the memorial possible. 

Mr. Rubenstein has set the tone for a new era of investment in America’s national parks. For 100 years, generous philanthropists have stepped forward to keep the national parks beautiful, vital and accessible. Rubenstein’s donation is the largest gift associated with the NPF’s Centennial Campaign. In preparation for the milestone anniversary, NPS Director Jarvis has asked the NPF to spearhead and implement the Centennial Public Engagement and National Fundraising Campaigns. Through these efforts, NPS and NPF will celebrate the NPS’s centennial and reintroduce the NPS’s work and opportunities to a new generation of Americans, inviting them to protect America’s special places, working together to connect all people to their parks, and inspiring the next generation of park stewards to visit and get involved with their national parks. 

“Mr. Rubenstein’s transformative philanthropic support will not only restore and rejuvenate Arlington House, enlivening it for new audiences, but it also provides an inspiring example of how public-private partnership is vital to ensure these special places thrive,” Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation said. “America’s national parks belong to each and every one of us, and, as such, we share the responsibility to protect and preserve them now and for the next generation.” 

The residence of Robert E. Lee and his family before the Civil War, the story of Arlington House connects to many important figures, issues and events in American history. Built by George Washington Parke Custis and his slaves between 1802 and 1818, the house and grounds have served many purposes over the last 200 years: a family home for the Lees and Custises, a plantation estate and home to 63 slaves, a monument honoring George Washington, a military headquarters for Union troops, a community for emancipated slaves and a national cemetery. With 650,000 visitors per year, Arlington House is the most visited historic house museum in the national park system. 

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at:

David M. Rubenstein is Co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager based in Washington, DC. He is also Chairman of the Boards of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Duke University, a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution, Co-Chairman of the Brookings Institution, Vice-Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and President of the Economic Club of Washington. In 2012, Rubenstein donated $7.5 million to repair the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument, which reopened to the public in May 2014, and in 2013 he donated $10 million to George Washington’s Mount Vernon home to support the construction and endowment of a library to house Washington’s books and papers and to serve as a center for leadership training. 


June 2013


This Sunday, June 30, you are invited to join Arlington house in celebration of the 182nd wedding anniversary of Robert E Lee and Mary Custis. From 11 am to 3 pm there will be period music and dancing, spinning and lace making demonstrations, and of course, tours of the historic mansion.  We hope you will be there! 


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June 2013

Tune in to learn more about Arlington House 


Want to learn more about the historic artifacts at Arlington House?  Tune in this Sunday,

June 9th at 8 am and 7 pm to American History TV on C-SPAN3.


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May 2013

Partners In Preservation Grant Contest


For weeks, Arlington House has been competing for Facebook likes, Tweets, FourSquare check-ins and Instagram tags.  The result s of the Partners In Preservation Grant Contest supported by American Express were announced on May 13th, at Decatur House, a historic property in its own right.  Monday turned out to be a h appy day for Arlington Ho use. 


Arlington House was awarded a $20,000 grant for the high percentage of votes that came from Instagram.  In addition, the House as well as 11 other entrants was awarded $5,000 in unrestricted grant funds.  The grant funds will be used to restore the South Wing Conservatory built by the Lee's and used by the Lee's to house tender plants in pots.  Robert E Lee called it a "conservatory" and Mrs. Lee called it her greenhouse.


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May 2013

Open House Weekend at Arlington House,

The Robert E Lee Memorial

Joined by National Park Service officials and U.S. Representative Jim Moran (D, 8th) Arlington House celebrated 6 years of restoration with a formal re-opening on 24 April, 2013.  Save Historic Arlington House, Inc. (SHAH) continued this celebration with an Open House on May 4-5, 2013.  This Open House was designed specifically to raise community awareness regarding a grant program funded by the American Express Corporation.  Arlington House was one of the 24 finalists competing for one million dollars in grant funding.  Social Media was a key component to the program with each historical site competing for votes.  The site with the most votes will be the popular vote winner and receive complete funding for their restoration project. 

Our Open House weekend featured a General Lee reenactor who walked the mansion grounds discussing the history of Arlington House and why it was so important to vote for the House.   Literally hundreds of school groups were enamored with the General and listened intently to his history lesson and the importance of voting.  Equally exciting were our face painters that were providing free face painting over the weekend.  The face painters were very busy with painting the faces of both young and old while explaining the importance of voting for the House.  Volunteers were out in force during the weekend, all dressed in period costumes.  Like the General, all were walking the grounds discussing the grant program and our specific project that needs funding.  Inside Arlington House, the Park Rangers were giving historical tours of the mansion.  The mansion’s furnishings and tens of thousands of artifacts are back in their places showing the mansion as it was in the early 1860’s.  The Open House welcomed 4,600 visitors and SHAH considers that a great success!!!

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May 2013




A novelty replica of Arlington House has replaced the plain Plexiglas donation box which was previously found toward the exit of the main house exhibit.  Visitors now have the opportunity to place their donations into a detailed novelty replica of the house through a caricature chimney.  Money travels down through the house, and into a transparent reservoir.

Broadway Scenic Designer, Anna Louizos along with Virginia native, Hilary Noxon, designed the box with the idea of giving visitors a sense of connection between their donations and the Robert E. Lee Memorial.   

The beautiful and artfully crafted replica is a welcome addition to the recently restored interior exhibit.

The trustees of Save Historic Arlington House are deeply grateful to Anna Louizos Design Studio for its generous gift of time and talent in our behalf.


Merle Schneider, SHAH Trustee, Rita Leduc, Office Manager,

Anna Louizos Designs and Ben Helwig, Acting Site Manager, Arlington House

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