The National Park Foundation has announced a $12.3 million gift from businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, the lead gift in NPF's Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks.
The gift will be used to restore and improve access to Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, which is located on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Built by George Washington Parke Custis between 1802 and 1818, and the residence of Robert E. Lee and his family before the Civil War, Arlington House and its grounds have served as a family home for the Lees and Custises, a plantation estate, a monument honoring George Washington, a military headquarters for Union troops, a community for emancipated slaves, and a national cemetery.
When the project is completed, visitors will experience Arlington House as it was in 1860, with every room restored to its historical appearance, including the slave quarters, which aim to better represent and tell the stories of the enslaved. With 650,000 visitors per year, Arlington House is the most visited historic house in the National Park System.
"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," said Rubenstein, co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, a D.C.-based investment management company. "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."