Preservation Pointers #8: Arlington House Tour

Monday, March 19, 2018 6:13 PM | Ellen O'Brien (Administrator)

Kimberly Robinson, Museum Curator with the National Park Service, and Bryan Fisher, AIA, Historic Preservation Specialist at GWWO Architects guided two groups of APT DC and AIA DC members and guests through Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, to provide an overview of preservation and rehabilitation efforts slated for construction beginning this spring and extending into next year. The project includes the restoration of the mansion house, dependencies, and grounds as well as the construction of a new structure to support the visitor experience.

  • Exterior walkways will be paved with a bonded aggregate material to better define walkways and to prevent dust and grit from current stone fines (pea gravel) walkways from being tracked into the mansion, where it damages floors and artifacts.
  • The National Park Service prepared a vast body of research before undertaking this project including historic structure reports, a cultural landscape report, an historic furnishing report, and a paint study. These documents were immensely helpful in guiding the restoration planning.
  • Some compromises needed to be struck between a fully authentic restoration of the site to its early-1860s appearance and its modern-day visitation of nearly 600,000 per year. Most notably, ramps will be added at both the front and rear of the mansion to allow one-way flow of visitors through the house museum.
  • Selected bricks across the basement foundation walls exhibited spalling and deterioration. It is likely these site-made historic bricks were not adequately fired when originally kiln baked. The deteriorated bricks will be selectively replaced with salvaged material and the remainder of the walls monitored for future spalling.
  • The house has never had much electric lighting installed and the intention is to keep electric lighting at a minimum, only installed as necessary to illuminate spaces with inadequate daylighting.
Future tours are being planned to show progress during and after the  project.  Thank you to Kimberley and Bryan for hosting this great event!

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