Robert E. Lee is best known for commanding the main eastern force of the Confederacy during the Civil War, winning major battles against much superior Union forces at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. He led two unsuccessful attempts to invade the North (turned back at Antietam in 1862 and Gettysburg in 1863), and then saw his army ground down by Union general Ulysses S. Grant in an attrition campaign through 1864 and part of 1865. His surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 effectively ended the war.
Arlington House was home to Robert E. Lee and his family for 30 years before the Civil War. As many as 63 slaves labored on the plantation at that time. When Lee decided to quit the U.S. Army in anticipation of Virginia’s secession, he left Arlington and took his family to Richmond. Not long afterward Union forces took over the house, and before the end of the war the grounds had already begun to be converted to a cemetery—Arlington National Cemetery.
When you tour Arlington House today, you can see the Lees’ grand old Southern aristocratic furnishings and rooms and walk around the slave quarters. The Robert E. Lee Museum houses a selection of artifacts and exhibits about Lee’s life. It should take you about an hour to tour the house; check with the ranger at the front door to see if there will be a guided tour offered while you are there.
In June of 2021, The National Park Service (NPS) reopened Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, following a complete rehabilitation of the site and transformation of the visitor experience. For more information click here.
For more about Arlington House, visit www.nps.gov/arho.
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
Hours: Arlington House and grounds, North and South Slave Quarters Exhibits, Museum and Bookstore are open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm. To go inside the house, you need to reserve tickets. First tour is at 9:00 a.m., last tour is at 4:00 p.m. Closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
Admission: Tickets are required to enter the house. Reserve your tickets on Recreation.gov. The tickets are free, but there is a small Recreation.gov service fee per ticket.
Parking: Arlington House is located inside Arlington National Cemetery. If you plan to come in a vehicle, the nearest parking is in the Arlington National Cemetery parking garage. From the entrance and Welcome Center at Arlington National Cemetery, one can walk up the hill to Arlington House (approximately 15 minutes-steep)
Metrorail: Blue Line stop for Arlington Cemetery.
Arlington National Cemetery
Old Town Trolley Tour