Arlington House, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s last home before the Civil War began, will be restored to its 1860 appearance thanks to a donation of $12.35 million by businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, according to an announcement by the National Park Service.
The surrounding plantation grounds of Arlington House were used as a burial ground for Union soldiers during the war and would become known as Arlington National Cemetery.
The house, which is easily visible from the Washington shore of the Potomac, sits atop the highest elevation of the cemetery and is a national memorial.
The gift was given to the National Parks Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Park Service, as part of a multiyear campaign to celebrate the centennial of the Park Service in 2016. President Obama established the Centennial Initiative to encourage donations such as Rubenstein’s for the maintenance and restoration of the country’s national parks and memorials.
When completed, the Arlington House restoration will include every room in the former home of Lee and his wife, Mary Custis Lee, whose father, George Washington Parke Custis, built the mansion in honor of President George Washington, who had adopted him as his son. The house’s slave quarters and the extensive flower gardens will also be renovated.