Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial | PARK AT A GLANCE

Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial

Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial


Arlington House is the former home of Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate army during the Civil War. However, the house was originally built by George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Custis. Martha is the lady who married George Washington as her second husband. The Washington’s raised George, and he considered George Washington to be his father. When Martha died in 1802, he inherited 1,100 acres on the Potomac River, and between then and 1818 he built a mansion that he originally called Mount Washington but later renamed Arlington House. The house was to serve as his personal George Washington memorial. Robert E. Lee came into the picture in 1831 when he married Mary Custis, George’s daughter.

During the Civil War, the house and property were confiscated by the Federal government and turned into Arlington National Cemetery, a political move designed to infuriate Lee. If he were ever to return, he would have a permanent reminder of the men who died due to a rebellion that he helped lead. He never did return.

In 1925, the U. S. Congress authorized the creation of the Robert E. Lee Memorial despite the fact that Lee had fought against the United States. It was his actions after the war that gained public and political forgiveness. Lee was one of the great proponents for bringing the country back together and urged Southerners to forget the past and graciously rejoin the United States. Arlington House was officially opened in 1933 after three years of restoration. Visitors are welcome to walk the grounds and see some of the interior of the house on a self-guided tour.

Arlington House is located within Arlington National Cemetery. From the entrance, the walk to the house is uphill all the way. Give yourself 15 to 20 minutes if you don’t stop at other points of interest, such as the graves of John and Robert Kennedy.

Although Arlington Cemetery is not operated by the National Park Service, anyone visiting Arlington House will certainly want to visit the cemetery as well. There is a visitor center at the entrance where you can pick up a free map of the grounds. There is no charge to walk around on your own, but the cemetery is huge (600 acres), so a visit requires quite a lot of walking. An alternate source of transportation is the tram tour. There are stops at various places within the cemetery, including Arlington House, where you can hop on and hop off. The tram comes by about every twenty minutes. For more information, see the Arlington Cemetery Tours web page.


Arlington House, the Memorial Grounds, the Slave Quarters Museum, and the Robert. E. Lee Museum are all open daily. From June through August the hours are 9 AM to 4:30 PM. From September through May the hours are 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM. The last house tour is at 4 PM. The entire park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to visit the official Arlington House Basic Information web page for the latest schedule.


There is no fee to tour Arlington House, walk the grounds, or visit the museums. There is also no fee to enter Arlington Cemetery unless you want to take the tram tour.


Arlington House Tour
allow 30 minutes

Grounds Tour and Museums
allow 1 hour

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Last updated on September 15, 2023
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