5 things to know about Arlington House in Virginia

AP News
Posted: Jul 17, 2014 5:17 PM
5 things to know about Arlington House in Virginia

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Here are five things you should know about Arlington House, the historic home of Gen. Robert E. Lee located at Arlington National Cemetery.

1. Arlington House was originally built as a monument to honor President George Washington, modeled after the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, Greece. It was built by Washington's step grandson George Washington Parke Custis and his slaves.

2. Robert E. Lee married into the Custis family, and Arlington House became his family estate from 1831 to 1861. This was where Lee wrote his resignation from the U.S. Army to join the Confederacy. He would never return to the house.

3. Selina Gray, a slave, was left in charge to care for Arlington House and its heirlooms from the Washington family when the Lee family evacuated. When Union soldiers took over the site, Gray confronted soldiers over stolen objects and convinced a commander to safeguard the house and family treasures.

4. The home's builder, George Washington Parke Custis, was also an artist. His 200-year-old frescos have been preserved on the walls, and he painted a large mural of George Washington at the Battle of Monmouth that remains in the house.

5. President John F. Kennedy made an unannounced visit to Arlington House in March 1963 and marveled at the hilltop view overlooking the nation's capital. That visit led to Jacqueline Kennedy's decision to have her husband buried below the house with a similar view from Arlington National Cemetery, despite family wishes to have Kennedy buried in Massachusetts.