Monday, February 22, 2010

R. E. Lee Collection on Display in PA

Robert E. Lee Memorial Collection at Friendship Hill is a must see
February 7, 2010

Part of Lee Collection at Friendship Hill / Photo NPSA previous article by this writer, "Friendship Hill, where history and nature merge”, briefly noted that Friendship Hill, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania is presently housing and displaying the Arlington House, Robert E. Lee Memorial Collection at the historic house. Although, not widely known or promoted, this historic collection has been at Friendship Hill since 2007.

This valuable historical collection has been temporarily entrusted to the National Park Service’s Friendship Hill National Historic Site while renovations are ongoing at the National Park Service’s Arlington House in Arlington, Virginia. For local Civil War buffs or that American history enthusiast passing through the area, it is a great opportunity to experience things owned and / or touched by the famous Confederate States of America’s general and his family. (As you may or may not know, General Robert E. Lee led the South to a losing conclusion of that great American conflict, the Civil War, a war that ended slavery.)

The National Park Services decision to move and display the Arlington House, Robert E. Lee Memorial Collection at Friendship Hill was a two fold decision. In part, it was a cost savings measure. It saved the National Park Service about $200,000 in storage fees. The second reason for moving the collection to Friendship Hill is to give the general public an opportunity to see pre-Civil War and Civil War related artifacts that they may otherwise never see. (Usually, a resident from Southwestern Pennsylvania has to make a trip to Gettysburg, Sharpsburg, Harper’s Ferry, Washington, D.C. or other points in the Eastern or Southern parts of the country to take in Civil War related history and artifacts.)

National Park Services literature for Friendship Hill states the following about the Arlington House, Robert E. Lee Memorial Collection… “Friendship Hill National Historic Site is the temporary home of the museum collection of over 3,300 objects from Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial in Virginia. Items, books, and furniture, including some once owned by the family of Robert E. Lee will be displayed at Friendship Hill while the National Park Service is rehabilitating the Arlington House Mansion, its outbuilding, and the historic grounds to protect and maintain the cultural resources and values for which the Robert E. Lee Memorial was established. The furnishings are expected to be at Friendship Hill for about three years (2007-2010).

Friendship Hill was Albert Gallatin’s home from 1789 until 1824. Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury, was living in Washington when Arlington House was built in 1802 by George Washington Parke Custis. Custis was George Washington’s step-grandson and became Robert E. Lee’s father-in-law. Arlington House was the scene of R. E. Lee’s fateful resignation from the U.S. Army at the beginning of the Civil War. The house and grounds were seized by the federal government during the war and soon after, Arlington Cemetery was established.” …Robert E. Lee never presided over Arlington House again.

The collection, as it is presently exhibited at Friendship Hill, is a snapshot of another time and place and how important families, who helped shaped our nation’s history, lived. Just think of all the people of notoriety that may have used the furniture and other artifacts that dates back to George Washington’s descendants! And remember, this may well be the only time one will see a large collection of Robert E. Lee’s family treasures in South Western Pennsylvania.

By the way, 2011 kicks off a four year 150th anniversary event that will take place across the nation, in remembrance of the American Civil War. Keep you eyes and ears opened for news about upcoming events at Civil War parks, battlefields and historic sites across the United State. Make it a point to get to know more about this important conflict in American history by visiting those sites and taking in planned events.

So get out and about and begin your journey though the American Civil War by first seeing the Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial Collection at Friendship Hill… but hurry, the collection is only on display at Friendship Hill for a very short time! It is scheduled to return to the Arlington House sometime in 2010.

F.Y.I.: Friendship Hill is located just outside of Point Marion, Pennsylvania, north of the West Virginia (Mason Dixon Line) border. Current winter hours at Friendship Hill are: 9am to 5pm, Friday through Sunday only. Daily hours of operation begin in April. For more information and driving directions, click on this link: Friendship Hill National Historic Site.