Work on national cemetery’s Arlington House begins next week

WASHINGTON — A fixture of Arlington National Cemetery is closing next week so construction can begin on a multimillion-dollar rehabilitation project.

The Arlington House is closing to the public beginning Monday, March 19, so it can undergo a monthslong rehabilitation project. The house — along with the Robert E. Lee Memorial and the surrounding land — is part of a $12.35 million restoration plan.

The Arlington House was the residence of Robert E. Lee and his family before the Civil War. It also served as a military headquarters for Union troops and as a community for emancipated slaves. One of the most visited historic house museums in the national parks system, it overlooks the nation’s capital from a hill within Arlington National Cemetery.

FILE - In this July 17, 2014, file photo, the historic Arlington House mansion is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The historic house and plantation overlooking the nation's capital was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
FILE – In this July 17, 2014, file photo, the historic Arlington House mansion is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The historic house and plantation overlooking the nation’s capital was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

The historic Arlington House mansion, top, is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The historic house and plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
The historic Arlington House mansion, top, is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The historic house and plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

National Park Service rangers wait for visitors to arrive at the historic Arlington House at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The historic house and plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift from Philanthropist David Rubenstein. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
National Park Service rangers wait for visitors to arrive at the historic Arlington House at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The historic house and plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift from Philanthropist David Rubenstein. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

National Park Service Jennifer Mummart holds the photo of Selina Norris Gray, at the site where was taken at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, in Arlington, Va. Selina was in charge to care for Arlington House the Lee had lived in for 30 years, The photograph was in the auction site eBay. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
National Park Service Jennifer Mummart holds the photo of Selina Norris Gray, at the site where was taken at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, in Arlington, Va. Selina was in charge to care for Arlington House the Lee had lived in for 30 years, The photograph was in the auction site eBay. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The historic Arlington House mansion is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The historic house and plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift from Philanthropist David Rubenstein. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
The historic Arlington House mansion is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The historic house and plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift from Philanthropist David Rubenstein. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

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FILE - In this July 17, 2014, file photo, the historic Arlington House mansion is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The historic house and plantation overlooking the nation's capital was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
The historic Arlington House mansion, top, is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The historic house and plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
National Park Service rangers wait for visitors to arrive at the historic Arlington House at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The historic house and plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift from Philanthropist David Rubenstein. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
National Park Service Jennifer Mummart holds the photo of Selina Norris Gray, at the site where was taken at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, in Arlington, Va. Selina was in charge to care for Arlington House the Lee had lived in for 30 years, The photograph was in the auction site eBay. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
The historic Arlington House mansion is seen at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The historic house and plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift from Philanthropist David Rubenstein. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The project will restore the Arlington House to its historical appearance in 1860. In addition, the mansion’s grounds will see some improvements, the National Park Service said, including new gardens.

The Arlington House’s slave quarters will be restored to better represent and tell their stories, said the National Park Service, which is also working with scholars to share the stories and experiences of those who were enslaved at the mansion.

“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 in a news release Tuesday.

Businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein donated the $12.35 million for the Arlington House restoration project in 2014. Rubenstein has donated millions to other National Park Service needs: In 2012, he donated $7.5 million to repair the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument, and in 2013 he donated $10 million to help build a library at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

“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,” Rubenstein said.

The Arlington House and its grounds will be closed to the public from March 19 through fall 2019. While its closed, the public can visit a temporary visitor center in the Women in Military Service of America Memorial, which is adjacent to the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.


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