AAA Editor Notes
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, off Sherman Dr. near the center of Arlington National Cemetery, is where young Lee courted and married Mary Anna Randolph Custis; it was their residence 1831-61. Mrs. Lee inherited the property from her father, George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington. He began building the house in 1802 on land purchased by his father, John Parke Custis.
The historic site also is where, in 1861, at the start of the Civil War, Lee chose to resign his commission in the U.S. Army to defend his native state. Union troops would later occupy the house because of its commanding position overlooking the Potomac and the capital. In 1864 the Arlington estate was confiscated on a legal technicality for nonpayment of taxes. After the war George Washington Custis Lee, Lee's eldest son, sued to receive compensation for the seizure of the property. In 1882 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, but by then thousands of graves covered the estate. Custis Lee elected to sell everything to the U.S. government for $150,000.
Administered by the National Park Service, the mansion has been restored to its 1861 appearance and contains some of the original Custis and Lee family furnishings. The grand portico faces the river and affords a splendid view of Washington, D.C. Also on the grounds is the Robert E. Lee Museum, which displays exhibits and relics pertaining to the Confederate general.
Note: The Arlington House is closed for renovations until early 2019; phone ahead for updates.
Guided tours are available.