Arlington House: Preserving History and Legacy in Fort Myer, Arlington, VA

Perched atop a gentle hill in Fort Myer, Arlington, VA, Arlington House stands as a testament to the nation’s history, resilience, and the enduring legacy of its occupants. This article delves into the historical significance, architectural marvels, and preservation efforts surrounding Arlington House, also known as The Robert E. Lee Memorial.  Arlington, VA can be seen at this link.

Historical Significance:

Arlington House holds a unique place in American history, serving as the former home of General Robert E. Lee and his family. Built between 1802 and 1817 by George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson of George Washington, Arlington House became the beloved residence of the Custis and Lee families. The house witnessed significant historical events, including the tumultuous years leading up to the Civil War, making it an integral part of the nation’s heritage. Information about The View of DC: A Spectacular Vantage Point in Rosslyn, Arlington, VA can be found here. 

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Architectural Marvel:

Arlington House is a remarkable architectural marvel designed in the Greek Revival style by George Washington Parke Custis. The mansion features classic Greek elements, including stately columns, pediments, and a symmetrical facade. The interior showcases intricate plasterwork, period furniture, and artifacts that offer a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Custis and Lee families. The majestic mansion and its surrounding grounds provide visitors with a captivating journey through the architectural and historical richness of the early 19th century.

Preservation and Restoration:

Arlington House has undergone extensive preservation and restoration efforts to maintain its historical integrity and ensure its longevity. The National Park Service (NPS) oversees the ongoing conservation of the mansion and its grounds, implementing meticulous restoration work to preserve the original features and artifacts. Preservation efforts include maintaining the structural stability of the mansion, restoring historical gardens, and keeping the family quarters, allowing visitors to experience Arlington House as it appeared during the 19th century.

Civil War Connections:

The Civil War brought profound changes to Arlington House, as the property became caught in the conflict’s crossfire. Following Virginia’s secession from the Union, the U.S. government claimed the estate for military purposes, turning it into a Union Army headquarters and eventually a military cemetery. The grounds of Arlington House now house Arlington National Cemetery, a sacred resting place for thousands of military personnel, including General Robert E. Lee’s former property enslaved workers.

Educational Programs and Tours:

Arlington House offers educational programs and guided tours to help visitors gain a deeper understanding of its historical significance. Interpreters and park rangers lead tours that explore the mansion’s history, the lives of the Custis and Lee families, and the impact of the Civil War on the estate. Educational programs cater to school groups, families, and individuals, fostering an appreciation for the complex history surrounding Arlington House.

Conclusion:

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, stands as a living testament to the nation’s history, resilience, and the enduring legacy of those who called it home. From its Greek Revival architecture to its pivotal role in the Civil War and ongoing preservation efforts, Arlington House continues to captivate visitors with its historical richness. As a cherished national memorial, Arlington House invites all who enter its gates to reflect on the complexities of American history and pay homage to the individuals who shaped its destiny.