Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, is a unit of the National Park Service and consists of a Greek-Revival mansion, two slave quarters, a museum, and the house grounds. George Washington Parke Custis and his bondsmen began construction of the home in 1802 and completed it sixteen years later. The Arlington estate was an 1,100-acre plantation on which enslaved workers grew corn, wheat, garden produce, and also raised livestock. Custis and some of his enslaved people contributed money to the controversial American Colonization Society, which established colonies in Africa for emancipated slaves. Some of Custis’ enslaved individuals were not content to wait for freedom. During Custis’ lifetime, and later when his son-in-law, Robert E. Lee, administered the property, a number ran away from the plantation. Custis mentioned runaways in an 1831 letter. In 1836, Jane Steiner was charged in a Washington DC court with aiding a runaway from Arlington. Three more slaves fled Arlington in 1859 and their flight received much attention in the press. In 1862, all of the remaining slaves received their freedom as specified in Custis’ will. During the Civil War, many formerly enslaved people settled at Freedmen’s Village located on the Arlington estate.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: George Washington Memorial Parkway, Turkey Run Park, McLean, Arlington, 22101
Contact Information: 703-235-1530 (main phone)
National Park Unit: Yes
Location Type: Site
People/Organizations Associated with the site: George Washington Parke Curtis (Owner),Robert E. Lee (Owner)
UGRR Operatives: Jane Steiner