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Historic Arlington House Damaged in Earthquake

by ARLnow.com — November 2, 2011 at 10:54 am 4,188 11 Comments

You’d heard about damage to the Washington Monument after the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the D.C. area in August. But you probably haven’t heard about the damage suffered by one of the most iconic, historic structures on the other side of the Potomac River.

Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee, suffered significant damage during the quake. Large portions of the 200-year-old house, which overlooks the District from what is now Arlington National Cemetery, are now closed to the public as a result of the quake.

The house’s entire second floor is currently closed, along with a back hallway. We’re told that the quake shifted the structure’s back wall by a quarter of an inch, producing large cracks in the plaster. Though further inspections will be performed, it’s thought that the damage is primarily to the plaster, and not to the structure. Some hairline cracks in the wall as seen from the outside, however, may have been caused by the earthquake; it’s unclear how significant those cracks may be to the structural integrity of the house.

Arlington House was already in the midst of a multi-stage rehabilitation project when the earthquake hit. The National Park Service will try to add earthquake repairs to an existing contract to rehabilitate the home’s interior plaster and paint, according to a park ranger. The work likely wouldn’t be complete until the end of March, at the earliest, we’re told.

In addition to being a national memorial and a tourist destination, Arlington House also serves as the inspiration for the Arlington County seal.

  • Jehovah

    this is proof that god is still punishing the confederacy, along with the union, and haughty episcopalians.

  • I against I

    I guess Arlington will knock Lee’s house down and put condos with a P.F. Chang’s.

    • Josh

      Nope, burger, Pizza, Froyo place… PF Chang’s is so 2000…

      • drax

        Anything with the words American or Tavern or Grill in the name will do.

  • I against I

    man, sorry Josh, you are right! PF Chang’s is so 2000! =D

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  • RebelYell

    Since when did the NPS start calling it “Arlington House?”. It’s the Custis-Lee Mansion.

    • Anne Marie

      Arlington is what the Custis Family and, later, the Lees called the estate/plantation. The home that sat there would be referred to as ‘the house’ or Arlington House. So that is, indeed, the proper name.

  • John Andre

    I think the mansion [originally the main plantation house of the Custis and Lee families] was originally called “Arlington House”; the plantation itself was known as “Arlington”. The neighboring next-door plantation, located where Reagan National Airport now stands, was called “Abingdon”. Originally, Arlington County was Virginia’s portion of a square or rectangular District of Columbia. The Virginia portion was deeded back to Virginia by an act of Congress; it was then named “Alexandria County”, and later renamed “Arlington County”. The name “Custis-Lee Mansion” appears to be a designation dating from the late 19th or early 20th century and is synomyous with “Arlington House”. In 1861 when Robert E. Lee left the area to assume command of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, the Lee family plantation was confiscated by the Union [Republican] government and later developed into Arlington National Cemetary. It’s rumored that Abe Lincoln did not like the idea of looking across the Potomac and seeing the land directly across the river in Virginia owned by the commanding general of the Confederate Army so he had the land seized by the Federal Government by Executive order. The land was never returned to the Lee family after the Civil War.

    • Elizabeth Simon

      Actually, I believe Custis Lee (Gen. Lee’s son and heir to the estate) was compensated by the government after the war. Not like having the property returned intact, of course, but considering its “adaptive reuse,” probably better for all concerned.

  • Michael H.

    The Treasury Department building, National Cathedral and Union Station also experienced earthquake damage. It’s looking like that event was worse than originally thought.

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