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BREAKING: Lee mansion suffers water damage after sprinkler malfunction

Arlington House, the historic former mansion home of Robert E. Lee at Arlington National Cemetery, suffered significant water damage Thursday night, ARLnow has learned.

The Greek revival style mansion reopened to the public this past June after major renovations, funded by philanthropist David Rubenstein. It also underwent renovations after being damaged in the 2011 Mid-Atlantic earthquake.

Now, a portion of the mansion will need to be restored after a reported sprinkler malfunction.

“Last night, United States Park Police was notified by Arlington National Cemetery security that the fire suppression system at Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial had discharged,” National Park Service spokesman Aaron LaRocca said, after an inquiry from ARLnow. “Thanks to the quick action of the Fort Myer Fire Department, US Park Police and National Park Service staff, water damage was limited to the hallway in the north wing, the adjacent staircase, and the basement below this area. The museum collection was not damaged.”

LaRocca added:

Our understanding is that inadequate heat in this section of the building caused a malfunction in a sprinkler head. Our primary focus now is to reduce humidity, restore the HVAC to a fully operational status, and recharge the suppression system.

We are all greatly appreciative of the quick response of our partners at the Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Myer and park staff who worked throughout the night to minimize damage. Their commitment to Arlington House and to protect the resources entrusted to the National Park Service is unquestioned.

The plantation house is closed until at least Tuesday and access to the north wing will be limited during clean up and restoration. The north and south enslaved people quarters, museum, grounds, and bookstore remain open.

Arlington House was replaced as the official logo of Arlington County last year.

The logo change process came about after the racial reckoning of the summer of 2020 and calls from the Arlington chapter of the NAACP, which called Confederate general’s former home a “racist plantation symbol” that “divides, rather than unites us.”

Hat tip to Alan Henney

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