WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The Arlington House and Robert E. Lee Memorial are reopened after three years of construction, and there are new exhibits showcasing the stories of the enslaved people who worked and lived at the plantation.
The house was built in the beginning of the 1800s. It sits inside of what is now the Arlington National Cemetery. The house and memorial closed in 2018 to undergo construction that included upgrading and updating the buildings and adding new exhibits and stories.
The construction added new technology and security systems as well as pieces of art that were restored. Additionally, there are new exhibits telling the stories of the enslaved laborers who worked and lived at the property.
The former book store has been transformed into “The Many Voices of Arlington Plantation,” which is an exhibit that lists the names of enslaved people who lived and worked at the plantation. There is also a book that gives what historians have come to learn about each person. The National Park Service left space in this exhibit to add names as more enslaved people and their stories are discovered.
The additions to the site give visitors the full history of the plantation, rather than just a piece that they were getting before. The site is bridged to the Lincoln Memorial, separated by the Potomac River, which symbolically separates the North from the South.
Aaron Larocca, Park Ranger with the National Park Service George Washington Parkway, said, “The National Park Service preserves America’s history, preserves America’s stories. We are America’s storytellers. It is important that we preserve that history for future generations and tell the history of places like this, our shared, complicated history.”
The Robert E. Lee Memorial — also on the site — has interactive pieces in the exhibit, which keeps the conversation going among visitors.
Parts of the site are open during cemetery hours, but anyone wanting to go inside of the house need to book a timed-entry ticket online.