Rehabilitation of Arlington House entering construction phase
Mansion will close from March 19 through fall 2019
ARLINGTON, Va. – Construction on a multi-million-dollar project to rehabilitate Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, and improve surrounding parkland begins Monday, March 19, 2018. While Arlington House is closed, park rangers invite the public to the temporary visitor center, located in the Women in Military Service of America Memorial, which is adjacent to the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.
The National Park Service (NPS) and National Park Foundation announced the $12.35 million restoration project made possible by businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein in 2014.
When the project is completed, visitors will see Arlington House as it was in 1860, with rooms restored to their historical appearance. Additionally, the quarters for the enslaved people of Arlington House will be restored to better represent and tell their stories. 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. People who cannot visit in person will enjoy a robust experience through virtual tours, complete with detailed displays of the rooms and objects that belonged to George Washington and the Lee family.
The NPS has elicited scholars’ advice on how to present, more completely, the experience of those who were enslaved at Arlington House. The NPS is committed to sharing our nation’s history inclusively and holistically. “While Arlington House serves as a memorial to Robert E. Lee, it also stands alone in its capacity to tell the stories of our nation’s triumphs and struggles through the lens of those who called it home,” park Superintendent Alexcy Romero, said.
The residence of Robert E. Lee and his family before the Civil War, Arlington House connects to many important figures, issues and events in American history. Built by enslaved laborers of George Washington Parke Custis between 1802 and 1818, the house and grounds have served many purposes over the last 200 years: a memorial honoring George Washington, a family home for the Lees and Custises, a plantation estate and home to 63 enslaved people, a a military headquarters for Union troops, a community for emancipated slaves and a national cemetery. With 650,000 annual visitors, Arlington House is the most visited historic house museum in the national park system. Since 1933, the NPS has managed Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial. The 16.28-acre memorial now lies within Arlington National Cemetery, which was built entirely within the historic 1,100-acre Arlington estate.
Dear Friends of Arlington House,
The spring season is upon us and at Arlington House it is considered one of the most beautiful times of the year. With the new leaves on the trees and shrubs surrounding the estate changing the landscape, one can envision both the Custis and Lee families celebrating the start of a new planting season as the weather turns warmer.
As a key member of the Arlington House Foundation’s “constituency of care”, we wish to bring you up-to-date with the latest historical restoration efforts for this great American treasure.
We are proud to announce the official start, during the month of March, of the complete restoration of Arlington House. This will be a lengthy process as the mansion will undergo a top to bottom process to bring Arlington House back to its 1860 appearance. Estimates for completion of all repairs and updates are between 12 and 18 months. While this massive restoration is happening to this famous historic site, we have a major project, currently not funded, to discuss with you.
For many years we have been working to broaden our interpretation to encompass more stories and details regarding the lives and experiences of enslaved and free African Americans who lived, and worked on the Arlington plantation. The park would like to begin a major project that would include the creation of new permanent exhibits and interpretative waysides. Once completed, these will tell the complete story of the African Americans living on the plantation as never before. To deepen visitor understanding of the meanings and at the same time, strengthen our institutional awareness of the dynamic living components of that history, we would like to enlist and engage the descendent community. Present in the draft of a new exhibit plan, is the mechanism to give voice to the living descendants of the enslaved. Our desire is to partner with the living descendants of the enslaved that will allow them a greater voice in the presentation of their own histories. Once completed, the rotating exhibits will trace the human stories from enslavement to modern life and show the survival and triumph of those who had to struggle for so long.
Needless to say, while we have much to be proud of with the beginning of the major restoration project starting on the mansion, as you can see, we still have projects to be accomplished and would welcome your support in moving this particular project forward. Your donations become even more important to the mansion during this time when Federal cutbacks to the Park Service are delaying many critical restoration projects. A list of all our approved projects is located at our web site at www.arlingtonhouse.org. Your donations may be made on-line at our website or by check mailed directly to our address, “Arlington House Foundation”, PO Box 3689, McLean, VA 22103.
Once again, thank you for your generous support and for your ongoing commitment to our restoration campaign for Arlington House and the surrounding 19 acres.
Arlington House Foundation
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