SFH Prices Up 11 Percent — “Something may have to give, eventually, but, for now, average single-family-home sales prices in Arlington continue to spike, according to new data. The average sales price of the 108 existing single-family homes that went to closing across the county in June stood at just over $1.35 million, up 11 percent from the already red-hot market of June 2021.” [Sun Gazette]
CAIR Backs Arlington House Bill — “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today expressed its support for legislation that would rename a memorial currently dedicated to Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Arlington, Va.” [Press Release]
Arlington Crisis Line Now at 988 — “A new 9-8-8 crisis and support hotline is now active across the United States, including here in Arlington County. In 2020, Congress designated a new 9-8-8 dialing code to operate through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) network, which has more than 200 locally operated and funded crisis lines across the country. PRS, Inc. operates the local network in Arlington.” [Arlington County]
Public Comment Rules Stretched — “After getting pilloried a month before for what critics called a heavy-handed approach to enforcing rules on public comment, County Board Chairman Katie Cristol on July 16 loosened her grip on the gavel just a bit. Cristol acknowledged that she was being a little more loose in her interpretation of rules for the July board meeting than she had been in June, when she shut down comment on the government’s Missing Middle housing proposal after just two speakers at the public-comment period.” [Sun Gazette]
Late Metro Critic Was Arlingtonian — “Matt Hilburn, a journalist and communications specialist best-known for his creation and curation of the popular and unsparing transportation social media account Unsuck DC Metro, died July 17 at his home in Arlington, Va. He was 54. The cause was complications of kidney cancer that had metastasized, said his father.” [Washington Post]
Board Members on Abortion Rights — From Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol: “We are joining with the many Arlingtonians who are now expressing their anger and frustration and their fear at the Dobbs v Jackson decision and at Gov. Youngkin’s threat to abortion rights in Virginia. We are committed as this Board to mitigating and preventing the public health crisis that these actions could precipitate and we will advocate for the protection of the fundamental human right to bodily autonomy.” [Blue Virginia]
Tech Event in Rosslyn Tonight — “For the 7th consecutive year, DCA Live and our partners are excited to recognize the 2022 Red Hot Companies, the Washington region’s fastest growing and most exciting companies. We’ll be profiling these companies over the coming weeks and will celebrate them with a lively, fun event on the evening of Wednesday, July 20 on the rooftop of Sands Capital in Rosslyn, VA.” [DCA Live]
Falls Church Check Fraud — “Last week, after being notified of suspicious activity, the City of Falls Church discovered fraudulent checks were cashed using the City’s accounts… City of Falls Church Police are aware of a possible national trend of checks being stolen from blue USPS mailboxes. The Police advise residents and businesses to mail checks and valuables directly through a post office.” [City of Falls Church]
It’s Wednesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 91 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:01 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Vincent
(Updated at 12:45 p.m.) Local lawmakers have again introduced legislation to officially remove Robert E. Lee’s name from Arlington House.
For fifty years, “Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial” has been the official name for the National Park Service-managed mansion that sits on top of a hill at Arlington National Cemetery.
But in recent years, there has been a push to drop Lee’s name from the memorial and return it to its original name of simply “Arlington House.”
In 2020, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va) proposed legislation to do just that since Arlington House lies in his district. The bill was co-sponsored by two other local representatives, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va) and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va), along with D.C. Congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Beyer said at the time that the legislation was partially inspired by requests for a name change from descendants of those who were enslaved at Arlington House. However, the bill never got out of committee and no change was made.
Two years later, though, these local lawmakers are trying again with a bicameral push.
The House bill is co-sponsored by Beyer, Connelly, Wexton, and Norton while a new Senate bill is sponsored by Tim Kaine (D-Va). The legislation, if passed and signed into law, would strip the Confederate general’s name from the house he once lived in.
“If we are serious about ending racial disparities, we need to stop honoring those who fought to protect slavery,” Kaine said in a press release. “I’m proud to be part of the effort to rename Arlington House, and am going to keep fighting for the kinds of reforms we need to create a society that delivers liberty and justice for all.”
This year’s bills are very similar to the one from 2020, Beyer Communications Director Aaron Fritschner confirmed to ARLnow, save for small language changes including adding a formal historic site designation.
If the legislation does pass, the mansion would officially be called “The Arlington House National Historic Site.”
The building that now sits inside Arlington National Cemetery was first built by enslaved people in the early 19th century to be the residence for George Washington Parke Custis. It was also intended to be a memorial to George Washington, Custis’s adoptive grandfather.
Custis’s daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis married Robert E. Lee in 1831. The soon-to-be Confederate general was known to be a cruel and sometimes violent head of the household.
During the Civil War, the Union Army seized the house as well as the grounds and turned it into a military cemetery.
In 1955, Congress passed legislation to designate the house as the “Custis-Lee Mansion.” The name was changed again in 1972 to what it is today, “Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial.”
For years, Arlington House was featured prominently in the county’s logo. That changed last year after a push to remove the house from the logo, in large part due to its formal name and association with Lee.
(An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Lee’s relationship to the house and property.)
Calling 911 Over Leaf Blowers — Writes a former Arlington County 911 dispatcher, regarding a recent ARLnow opinion column about leaf blower noise: “Hard hitting stuff coming out of ArCo, as always. I remember taking a 911 call once where the caller complained about this very issue and, in an effort to get police dispatched, called his neighbour’s leaf-blower a ‘violent weapon.’ This county is truly deranged.” [Twitter]
New Drug Recovery Resource — “For individuals having difficulty with substance use, the first step to a better life involves withdrawing from alcohol or drugs. The new Arlington Recovery Center – a partnership between the County and National Capital Treatment and Recovery (NCTR) – is ready to help people with that journey. Arlington Recovery Center opened its doors this year and includes both Withdrawal Management and Early Recovery programs.” [Arlington County]
Book About Arlington House’s Builder — “Arlington journalist, historian and author Charles S. (‘Charlie’) Clark recently penned ‘George Washington Parke Custis: A Rarefied Life in America’s First Family.’ The book chronicles the complicated life of Custis (1781-1857), who was raised at Mount Vernon – he was the grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson of George Washington – and in adulthood was responsible for the construction of the Arlington House estate using both free and enslaved workers.” [Sun Gazette]
VHC Expanding With McLean Building — “Virginia Hospital Center is charging ahead with its campus expansion while growing its ambulatory footprint — starting with a $34.5 million purchase in McLean. The Arlington health system has purchased a building at 1760 Old Meadow Road where it’s setting up an orthopedic outpatient surgery center, according to VHC CEO Jim Cole. The hospital is now renovating a 14,900-square-foot area of existing building in a project expected to cost $6.4 million including construction and equipment.” [Washington Business Journal]
Crossing Guard Spreads Thanksgiving Cheer — From Williamsburg Middle School Principal Bryan Boykin: “Mr. La is bringing a little holiday flavor to his traffic duties,” thanks to a large turkey costume. [Twitter]
New Tech Repair Store in Pentagon City — “Leading tech repair provider uBreakiFix by Asurion has opened its newest location in Pentagon City at 1101 S. Joyce St., Suite B-12 on Pentagon Row. The store offers professional repair services for anything with a power button, from smartphones, tablets, and computers to game consoles, smart speakers, and drones-and everything in between.” [Press Release]
Officials Urge Caution on the Roads — “The American Automobile Association predicts that 1.4 million Virginians will travel for this Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, which equates to 11 percent more motorists than in 2020. Virginia State Police urge patience for motorists planning to hit the roadways. ‘With traffic on the roads increasing and many people anxious to get to their destination, I encourage all Virginians to be patient. Buckle up and take your time,’ said Col. Gary Settle, Virginia State Police superintendent.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Wednesday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 47. Sunrise at 7:01 a.m. and sunset at 4:48 p.m. Thanksgiving day will be mostly sunny, with a high near 55. Showers early Friday morning, then mostly sunny, with a high near 46. We will not be publishing Thursday but will be back with a light publishing schedule on Friday.
Arlington House’s Hidden History — “On Tuesday, the historic mansion in Arlington National Cemetery reopens after a renovation that has recaptured the glory of the house, along with clues to the secret lives of the enslaved Black people who were the main occupants of the land where it stood.” [Washington Post, NBC 4]
Developer Looks to Expand in Arlington — “One of JBG Smith Properties’ top executives handling the company’s massive Arlington portfolio — and its relationship with Amazon.com Inc. — has jumped to another developer. Longtime JBG Smith Executive Vice President Andy Van Horn made the move to Dweck Properties on May 17… he aims to transform Dweck from a small family company with a focus on apartment management to an active developer of properties in National Landing,” [Washington Business Journal]
Smash and Grab Theft in Pentagon City — “At approximately 6:57 p.m. on June 5, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that the two male suspects entered the business, smashed the glass display cases containing merchandise, stole several items and fled the scene in a waiting vehicle.” [ACPD]
County Board Resumes In-Person Meetings — “After more than a year participating in meetings largely from their own rec rooms or similar spaces, Arlington County Board members will be back on the dais later this month. ‘The board is looking forward to holding board meetings and interacting with the community in-person safely and responsibly,’ County Board Chairman Matt de Ferranti told the Sun Gazette.” [Sun Gazette]
Baby Deer Found Near Fire Station — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “This tiny (and we really mean tiny) fawn was found in the parking lot of a local fire station. Due to his location and condition, our officers knew they had to step in and help this little guy. He is now safe and sound with a local wildlife rehabber!” [Twitter]
GOP Questions Dem Caucus — “A key leader of the Arlington County Republican Committee last week mused publicly whether the powers-that-be of the Arlington County Democratic Committee put their thumbs on the scale to help a School Board candidate across the finish line. The Democratic leadership, in response, said the GOP attack line is based on a faulty supposition.” [Sun Gazette]
Masks Still Required Inside APS Buildings — “Fully vaccinated individuals may now remove their masks when outside on school grounds and are exempt from quarantine if identified in contact tracing. Masks are required for everyone while inside our facilities and schools. These measures are subject to change as we anticipate additional revised guidance for schools prior to the start of the new school year.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Man Clinging to Side of Overpass Stops Traffic — “I-66 and a portion of N. Glebe Road [are] currently blocked due to a man who was hanging off the side of the overpass. The man is now in police custody and the roads are reopening.” [Twitter]
(Updated 4:35 p.m.) A 140-year-old historic home in Arlington owned and built by Harry Gray, who was formerly enslaved at Arlington House, is for sale with an asking price of $915,000.
“A masonry D.C. row house with the convenience of an Arlington location,” reads the real estate listing. “As soon as you walk in from your front porch the home shines with its exposed brick and tall ceilings & windows, giving it a spacious, cozy feel.”
Located at 1005 S. Quinn Street, right off of Columbia Pike, the building is on the National Register for Historic Places and is protected by the county under the “historic district” designation. This means that certain exterior alterations have to be approved by the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB).
The son of Selina Gray, Harry was born at Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House estate and was enslaved there until he was 12 years old. According to Virginia law at the time, he was property of George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington’s step-grandson and the father-in-law of Robert E. Lee.
After that, he lived at nearby Freedman’s Village and worked at local brickyards where he honed his skills as a mason. Later, he became an employee of the U.S. Patent Office and, inspired by the rowhouses he saw while working downtown, built one for his family in Arlington, near Freedman’s Village.
Constructed in the fashionable Italianate style of the late 19th century, the home is two stories tall with a solid brick foundation and standing-seam metal shallow-pitched shed roof. To this day, the home is a rare example of a brick rowhouse in the county.
“It’s a visible relic of a formerly enslaved person from Arlington House and Freedman’s Village, who went on to become middle class,” local author and historian Charlie Clark tells ARLnow about the house.
However, owning a historic home of this nature comes with a unique responsibility.
In 1984, the Harry Gray House became one of the first buildings in the county to be given the historic district designation. Currently, there are 13 single-family homes with this designation in the county, with only a handful of those remaining private residences (the rest are owned by the county or state).
This protects the Harry Gray property from “insensitive alterations,” says Cynthia Liccese-Torres, Program Coordinator for Historic Preservation in Arlington County.
“It’s not owned by the county, but we are tasked with the responsibility of helping any owner be the proper steward of the house,” she says.
While the exterior is protected, that doesn’t mean alterations and changes can’t happen. Liccese-Torres explains that the county has no purview on what happens with the interior, hence why the listing notes the extensive work that’s gone on inside — one of a number of interior renovations over the years.
If the owner notices a rotting front column or a leaky roof, says Liccese-Torres, replacement with the exact same materials and with the dimensions are allowed to happen without approval.
These are known as “in-kind” replacements.
If the owner wanted to build an addition or enclose a front porch, that’s an example of something that would need to go through the HALRB. Requests of this nature have been approved in the recent past.
“Those approvals show this property continues to be adapted,” says Liccese-Torres. “Here we are in 2021 and changes are still allowed to happen. It’s not a static museum piece. It is a home that has been adapted to serve people’s needs over time.”
The house last went on sale in 2011 and was purchased by Cameron and Catherine Saadat.
“We [lived] in Old Town before that, so we had already kind of gotten the appreciation for older homes,” says Cameron. “We happened to see this come on the market and just kind of fell in love with the D.C.-style rowhouse.”
They paid about $387,000 for the house, which was in foreclosure. The couple says that, over the last decade, they’ve poured about $300,000 worth of work into the home, including a complete renovation of the interior.
This is set to be a pivotal year for how Arlington County represents itself in its logo and its infrastructure.
At the close of 2020, Arlington County kickstarted the process of updating its logo — a process that will soon be inviting public input — and this fall, County Board members expect to review a new framework for considering the possibility of new names for things like parks, streets and building.
Board member Christian Dorsey and NAACP President Julius “JD” Spain, Sr. previewed these upcoming changes during a recent discussion on renaming hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100, a group that talks about local issues.
Meanwhile, Marymount University assistant professor Cassandra Good shed light on the history of Arlington’s street naming and made recommendations for a new approach.
Spurred by a national discussion of systemic racism and police violence in 2019 and 2020, Arlington County is re-examining its logo, which depicts Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial, the former plantation home of the Confederate general and descendants of George Washington. The county is also reconsidering the names of various roads, parks and local landmarks named for Confederate generals and soldiers, slaveholders, plantations, and historic figures known for their racism.
That work is ongoing. A county logo review panel has received more than 250 submissions to consider and narrow down to five for the community to rank in May, Spain said. The County Board will select a new logo in June.
Meanwhile, county staff members are hammering out a formal process for naming and renaming places in Arlington going forward, to bring a systematic approach to what has so far been a case-by-case process.
“We expect that during the fall of this year, we will have a proposal from our county manager for how we ought to think about the renaming issue,” Dorsey said. “There’s going to be a lot more that comes with that, I expect.”
Some Committee of 100 members wondered whether the panelists think the county ought to change its name, too, given that the county is named after the plantation house that’s being removed from the logo.
Panelists said such a conversation could take place but changing the name Arlington would not only pose an extreme logistical challenge but may also not reflect a nuanced view of renaming.
“When we’re talking about changing the name of Arlington, it may come a time when we need to have that conversation,” Spain said. “But Arlington — I believe changing the name of a county is a pretty heavy lift.”
Dorsey said he is not in favor of throwing out everything that was the product of a certain time in history as “the poisonous fruit of a poisonous tree.”
A recurring question for officials tasked with renaming has been whether to swap one historical figure with another. The community could choose a person whose character could come into question later on, they said.
Good, the Marymount professor, said while her preference is not to use names of historical figures, there ought to be a few new historical figures featured.
“There need to be some names for people,” she said, otherwise, “the names that remain will mostly white people.”
Dorsey added that while the county can think beyond individuals, there will be some figures who community members will want to honor.
“I would hate to lose that entirely,” he said.
Good said Arlington first formalized a naming process for streets in 1932, when a commission of, as far as she can tell, all-white Arlington residents finalized the names for the county’s streets. Several — including Lafayette, Hamilton and Pocahontas Streets — were renamed at that time, she said.
Going forward, she recommended that all renaming decisions include those who have been excluded and involve a professional historian. Renaming should be considered if the current name was originally chosen to honor somebody for reasons that are at odds with the community’s values, she said.
The county is calling on the community to submit their ideas for a new county logo and seal.
The logo will phase out the depiction of Arlington House, also known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial, on all county communications and materials starting this summer. Over time, the new logo will appear on signage for county amenities such as parks, community centers and buildings, the submissions webpage said.
“We are writing a brighter chapter in Arlington’s story, one that aligns with the County’s important focus on racial equity,” the website said. Submissions are due by Sunday, March 14.
According to submission guidelines, artists only can submit one idea and it must be new and original. The art should “look good” in black and white and in color, and when it is printed on something as small as a pen and as large as a billboard. Designs in any media — from digital to crayon — are accepted.
Proposed design ideas have included dogwood trees, the Potomac River, the Rosslyn skyline, and the Pentagon, as well as abstract concepts like peace and diversity.
“As you create your design, think about the images, symbols and feelings unique to Arlington and shared by people across neighborhoods,” the county website said.
A submission form is available on the county website. It asks people to submit a .jpg, .png or .pdf version of their design, to share whether they are a current or former resident or have some “other” affiliation with Arlington, and to briefly describe the art and what it depicts or represents.
The move to update the emblem began with a push from the Arlington branch of the NAACP last summer, which decried the current logo as a “racist plantation symbol” that honors a slave-owning Confederate general. County Board members expressed their support in September and approved a process for replacing it in December.
County Manager Mark Schwartz previously told the board that the earliest instance of the logo’s use by the county was in 1974.
When the March deadline passes, a panel of community members picked by Schwartz will choose three to five top contenders. A professional graphic designer will further develop the concepts through April. The community will then rank their picks in May and the County Board is expected to choose one in June.
Schools Closed, Federal Gov’t on Delay — Due to anticipated icy conditions this morning, Arlington Public Schools has closed schools, though distance learning is still on. Federal government offices have a 10 a.m. delayed opening. [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington Xmas Decorations Go Viral — Two Arlington homes, next door to one another, have very different approaches to holiday decorating, as seen in a tweet that went viral. [Twitter]
Might Mayor Pete Live in Arlington? — “Pete and Chasten have an affinity for airports — Pete proposed to Chasten at O’Hare in Chicago and Chasten proposed to Pete at an airport in Berlin — so why not live walking distance from DCA? Besides having a great beer bar and Synetic Theater, the area also known as Crystal City is a major transportation hub, which could work in Pete’s favor as he starts his new role.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]
Bill Would Strip Lee’s Name from Arlington House — Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s name is likely to soon be removed from Lee Highway in Arlington, and potentially from his former home in Arlington National Cemetery as well. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has introduced legislation that would rename what’s currently known as “Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial” as just “Arlington House.” Arlington County is in the process of removing an illustration of the house, which critics say is a symbol of slavery, from its logo and seal. [Press Release, Twitter]
Funeral for Vietnam War Hero — “Despite the winter elements that hit the [D.C. area] Wednesday morning, Medal of Honor recipient Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins was given modified military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Adkins died from COVID-19 earlier this year in April at the age of 86.” [WJLA]
Local Nonprofit Gets Grant — “The Arlington-based nonprofit organization, Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) announced their latest financial contribution from the Arlington Women’s Civic Alliance (AWCA) to support LLT’s leadership training and college readiness programs. ” [Press Release]
A new logo and seal for Arlington County could be chosen from community submissions in June of 2021.
Members of the County Board gave the go-ahead to a logo-change process during their recessed meeting Tuesday evening. Before doing so, Board members agreed to shorten the process by one month and asked county staff to come back in June with a timeline estimating how long it will take to phase out the logo.
“We’ve had this discussion since July,” Takis Karantonis said. “This logo is offensive, therefore we are really in a hurry to retire it and make it disappear from our official documents, etc.”
County Manager Mark Schwartz promised to come back with a timeline next summer, anticipating it will take a while to figure out everywhere the logo pops up.
“I will not begin to even guess the number of places the symbol appears on the sides of vehicles and things,” he said.
Board Chair Libby Garvey, who said she no longer wears a pin with the county seal, predicted that “it’s going to take us a little while” to completely phase out the use of Arlington House — also known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial.
The County Board agreed to embark on a plan to change the logo this September, after the Arlington branch of the NAACP said it is time to remove the “divisive and racist” Arlington House, “a symbol of a slave labor camp,” from the County logo and seal.
With the Board’s blessing, Schwartz will start advertising a logo review panel. It will be filled with nine to 11 community members representing a range of races and ethnicities, ages and abilities, who hail from different neighborhoods and business communities. Schwartz will ultimately pick the panelists.
The County would ask for submissions in February. The panel will narrow them down to five at most and have the top contenders developed by a professional graphic designer in March and April. In May, the community would rank their picks and in June, the County Board will make the final choice.
The new design, whatever it is, will be used both as a seal and a logo.
Proposed design ideas have included dogwood trees, the Potomac River, the Rosslyn skyline, and the Pentagon, as well as abstract concepts like peace and diversity.
The history of the logo is fairly recent, according to Schwartz.
The first instance of the Arlington House on an official county document that the County could find was in 1974. In 1983, the County adopted the house to adorn the County flag, and in 2004, the symbol in use now was adopted as the logo. Today, the County has a separate seal and logo, both of which feature the house.
In 1972, Congress renamed the Arlington House as “Arlington House: the Robert E. Lee Memorial,” in honor of the Confederate general, who once lived in the historic mansion on the grounds of the future Arlington National Cemetery. In 1861, after Virginia seceded, the Lees fled the home and in 1864, the federal government seized the property because the Lees owed taxes on it.
The redesign joins a growing list of public spaces that have been or are being renamed. A renaming process for Lee Highway (Route 29) has recommended “Loving Avenue” as a new name for the commercial corridor and commuter route. On Saturday, the County Board approved a new name for Henry Clay Park: Zitkala-Sa, after an Indigenous writer and activist who lived in the area.
To streamline the renaming and naming parks, streets and buildings — which involves multiple departments — the County also approved on Tuesday a new process that includes the formation of a group that would review every proposed name or name change.
Protest Outside Westover Post Office — About 15 protesters held a “Save the U.S. Postal Service” rally outside the Post Office at 5877 Washington Blvd in Westover yesterday. The two-hour lunchtime demonstration was organized as part of the American Postal Worker Union National Day of Action. [@KalinaNewman/Twitter]
Historic Review Board Likes Shirlington Plan — “The Arlington County government’s historic-preservation advisory body seems generally satisfied that retention of historic features will be seen as an important component of the redevelopment of the Village at Shirlington. In particular, the low-slung storefronts along Campbell Avenue are expected to be protected from the wrecking ball, even as taller and more dense development likely will be allowed immediately behind them.” [InsideNova]
New BBQ Restaurant Opens Patio — “Smokecraft Modern Barbecue is excited to debut its much-anticipated patio, now open daily for outdoor dining and drinking. Arlington residents and visitors can now enjoy Smokecraft’s award-winning barbecue outside on a socially distant patio, consisting of 38 seats.” [Press Release]
TTT in Clarendon to Host Virtual DJ — Updated at 9:30 a.m. — “Beginning Friday, September 4… TTT (Tacos, Tortas & Tequila) known for its casual Mexican-influenced fare is adding an exciting bit of fun on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons with virtual DJs. Guests dining on the first floor and on the third floor TTT Rooftop, which seats 82 and offers wonderful views on the city, will enjoy watching and listening to live streaming DJ performances via large screen projection.” [Press Release]
Family Pushing for Arlington House Change — “Descendants of Charles Syphax have been courting lawmakers for the past few months to make the change, said Syphax family historian Steve Hammond, who lives in Sterling, Va. The family’s effort is motivated as much by a desire to accurately honor the full history of the property and the enslaved people who lived there as it is by any antipathy toward Lee.” [Washington Post]
Nearby: Back to School in Falls Church — Students have started the fall semester, virtually, in Falls Church. A TV news segment shows teachers conducting their virtual classes from their actual, physical classrooms. [NBC 4]
Since 1972, Arlington House — the recognizable Greek revival mansion atop the hill in Arlington National Cemetery — has been officially called “Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial.”
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is now planning to propose legislation that would remove the Confederate general’s name.
Beyer said today, as first reported by the Associated Press, that it’s time to drop Lee from the official name of the house, from which Arlington County gets its name, logo and seal. The general lived in the house, but its history goes beyond his time there, both before — it was built by George Washington’s adopted son around the turn of the 19th century — and after — when it was seized during the Civil War.
“The choice of Lee’s home for the site of a national military cemetery was intended to be a punitive measure against Lee, who himself said after the Civil War that he opposed erecting Confederate monuments,” Beyer said in a statement sent to ARLnow. “Given these considerations and requests from members of the community, including descendants of enslaved people in the area, I am working on legislation to remove the reference to Robert E. Lee from the official name of Arlington House.”
“Part of the reckoning with the history of racism and slavery in America and in our own community has been a reexamination of public symbols,” Beyer continued. “I absolutely support that process, including the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from the U.S. Capitol and taking other actions that make it clear we do not revere Confederate leaders or approve of the cause for which they fought.”
Beyer’s push to remove the name comes as Arlington County is in the midst of a series of proposed renamings, some brought about by the national racial reckoning that followed George Floyd’s killing at the hands of police.
A name change process has been launched for Lee Highway (Route 29), and new names have been proposed for Henry Clay Park and the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington. Previously, Washington-Lee High School was renamed Washington-Liberty and Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) was renamed Richmond Highway.
The Arlington branch of the NAACP, meanwhile, called last month for Arlington’s logo and seal to be redesigned in order to remove Arlington House from each, calling it “divisive and racist” and “a symbol of a slave labor camp.”