Sitting high atop the ridgeline of Arlington Heights, overlooking the Potomac River and directly across from the capital of the U.S., Arlington House stands out, as Robert E. Lee said, “as a house anyone could see with half an eye.” Certainly, it is one of the most visible sights in Washington D.C. Not only does the house stand guard over Arlington National Cemetery, initially created on the Arlington House estate’s 1,100 acres, but it also stands as an outstanding, and important, example of early Greek Revival architecture.
Composed of a two-story central section flanked by two one-story wings, Arlington House was begun in 1802 as a monument to George Washington. Built by George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson of George Washington, circumstantial evidence indicates that he commissioned George Hadfield, second architect of the U.S. Capitol building and designer of the Washington City Hall, to design Arlington House. According to architectural historian Ralph Hammett, this was only the third representation of Greek revival style in the United States at the time.
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