An airport advisory panel recommended yesterday that the ruins of a colonial plantation house on National Airport grounds be removed to make room for 750 parking spaces as part of the airport's reconstruction.

Under the plan, the remains of the Abingdon plantation house, which is a charred brick wall, would be removed, and an archaeological excavation would be conducted on the one-acre site.

Airport officials say the fragments of ceramics, crystal, tools and other bits of colonial life that might be found would be put on display in a "museum quality" exhibit at the airport.

The recommendation comes after months of debate between airport planners, who are trying to make room for $735 million in new construction at the cramped airport over the next five years, and Arlington preservationists, who say the ruins are an important reminder of the county's colonial history.

"I've agonized personally over this thing, because I'm somewhat of a history buff," said Carrington Williams, chairman of the Planning Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. "But I think {the excavation plan} is the best way to go."

The committee's recommendation, which will be considered by the authority's board on July 19, disappointed many Arlington and Alexandria residents who have sought to preserve the site. Airport Authority Chairman Linwood Holton attended the meeting and spoke in favor of the committee recommendation.

"It's our second choice," said Judy Muniec, chairman of the Arlington Heritage Alliance, one of several groups trying to save the Abingdon site. "We would much prefer to have it preserved. It's a part of our history, one of the riverfront plantations that were between Arlington and Mount Vernon."

Many residents treasure Abingdon because of its ties to George Washington's family. His stepson, John Parke Custis, bought the estate in 1778 and lived there several years.

The authority's original plan calls for preservation of the Abingdon site between two of three new parking garages, but airport planners looked at developing the site as a way to squeeze 750 more parking spaces near the main terminal.

Daniel J. Feil, the authority's staff architect, told the Planning Committee yesterday that one alternative plan to preserve the Abingdon site would require more parking spaces on the south side of the airport.

Another alternative, Feil said, would be to change the authority's policy and build parking garages taller than the Metro track at National. Airport officials have avoided building a garage taller than the track, fearing such a structure would overshadow the George Washington Parkway.