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Restored gate unveiled at Arlington National Cemetery after 40 years in storage

Arlington National Cemetery’s restored Ord and Weitzel Gate was unveiled to the public earlier this week, after more than four decades in storage.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, the historic gate was officially reopened at the north entrance of the cemetery’s hallowed ground.

The iron gate dates to 1879 when it was first designed by Montgomery Meigs, also known for his work on the U.S. Capitol dome and what’s today the National Building Museum. The columns on top, decorated with “elaborately sculpted urns,” are two centuries old and were originally part of the War Department building prior to its demolition.

In 1902, the names of Civil War officers Gen. Edward Ord and Gen. Godfrey Weitzel were inscribed on the columns, thus giving the gate its name.

As the years went on, though, the cemetery expanded and the gate became weathered. It was also too small for modern vehicles to fit through. So, in 1979, it was disassembled and put into storage.

Forty-three years later, it’s back in its original location, restored, and reopened to the public. Now, though, it’s a pedestrian-only gate.

“The opening of the restored Ord and Weitzel Gate marks an important milestone in Arlington National Cemetery’s long-range plan to preserve our priceless monumental and architectural history,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director of the Office of Army Cemeteries, said in a press release. “Our historic gates are among the cemetery’s most unique and meaningful cultural resources, yet their stories often remain untold.”

The restored gate also came with a number of improvements to the Custis walking path, including updating the sidewalk, security features, and making other visitor-friendly infrastructure changes.

The sidewalk was changed from asphalt to concrete for design and safety reasons, per a cemetery spokesperson. A new, updated guardhouse was also added, plus a water fountain, benches, trash cans, and street lamps. There’s a new pull-off location for the ANC tram as well.

ANC is in the midst of undergoing an expansion that will add 60,000 burial sites and space for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center.

This will require realigning Columbia Pike and moving it closer to I-395 so that gravesites can be placed where it currently curves around the Air Force Memorial. That portion of the project just got underway this past spring. The construction will eventually result in the closing of a portion of Columbia Pike near Pentagon City, which could happen as soon as early next year.

With the expansion, as well as the restoration of the historic Ord and Weitzel Gate, Arlington National Cemetery is looking to preserve, modernize, and grow.

“Just yesterday I was giving a briefing on our Southern Expansion Project, and I discussed how we were building history, a project that will last as long as there is a United States of America,” ANC’s Director of Engineering Col. Thomas Austin said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “Now, here at Ord and Weitzel, we have the honor of rebuilding history, reviving a structure with elements that go back nearly 200 years. What an honor it is and how lucky we all are to be a part of it.”

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