It’s been a few years since I’ve visited Arlington House, but since Robert E. Lee’s birthday is January 19, I thought I’d post some of my photos.
The beautiful house sits high atop the ridgeline of Arlington Heights, overlooking the Potomac River and directly across from the capital. Arlington House stands out, as Robert E. Lee said, “as a house anyone could see with half an eye.” Certainly, it is one of the most visible sights in Washington D.C.
Constructed between 1802 and 1818, Arlington House served not only as the Custis family home but also as the nation’s first memorial to our country’s first president, George Washington.
Connection to George Washington
George Washington Parke Custis and his sister Nelly were the two youngest grandchildren of Martha Dandridge Custis. They were raised from infancy by Martha and her second husband George Washington at Mount Vernon. (Martha’s first husband died).
Young Custis grew to revere Washington as a father and military hero. On his grandmother’s death in 1802, Custis inherited the Custis estates, including the 1,100 acres on the Potomac that became Arlington Plantation.
Custis first christened the property Mount Washington, later renaming it Arlington after an early Custis family plantation. Modeled after a Greek temple, Custis turned the mansion into a museum for his “Washington Treasury,” a collection of Mount Vernon and Washington artifacts he delighted in showing to people.
In 1804, Custis married Mary Lee Fitzhugh. In 1831, their only surviving child, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, married Lt. Robert E. Lee, a childhood friend and distant cousin. Mary and Robert Lee had seven children and divided their time between Arlington House and Lee’s duty posts in various parts of the young country.
Mary Lee inherited Arlington House when George Washington Parke Custis died in 1857, but of course fled during the Civil War due to its proximity to Washington, D.C.
I remember this old door when touring the house. Can you imagine all of the hands that touched this wood?