In July of 2014, philanthropist David M. Rubenstein announced a $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.
Mr. 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 rehabilitation project consists of three distinct components: physical construction and site improvements; advancements for the visitor experience; and enhancement to the museum collections and artifact conservation. Mr. Rubenstein’s donation was also leveraged by the Arlington House Foundation for a “Save America’s Treasure” grant,which is intended to preserve nationally significant historic properties and collections. Additionally, Exciting new interpretive exhibits will enhance the visitor experience by providing multiple perspectives on the Arlington House and the plantation. Target date for reopening the site is January of 2020.
Fencing has now been erected around the historic Arlington House and grounds as work moves forward to completely restore the mansion and grounds. For visitors who visit the Arlington National Cemetery during the mansion closure, a temporary visitor center and museum exhibit is now located inside the "Women in Military Service for America Memorial" (WIMSA) located near the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. In this temporary visitor center, visitors are able to speak with park rangers, read displays about the history of Arlington House, the people who called it home, and its transition into a national memorial. Rangers will also offer regular tours and programs at WIMSA during the closure.
When the rehabilitation 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. Individuals who cannot visit in person will enjoy a robust experience through virtual tours, complete with detailed displays of rooms and objects that belonged to George Washington and the Lee family.