Saturday, August 12, 2017

Quilts at the Lee's Arlington House

Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial,
has a few quilts in their collection.

Arlington House under Union occupation by Robert Knox Sneden.
Virginia Historical Society. The house was built about 1810.

The Virginia plantation mansion in Arlington Heights was the family home of Mary Custis Lee, wife of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Once Lee decided to fight for the South, the Lees abandoned their home so close to the Union capitol. The home is now a National Parks Service site, open to visitors, adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington D.C.

I couldn't find any cataloguing information on the quilts so we don't know to whom they are attributed. Are they Lee family quilts? Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee (1808-1873) is known to have made quilts.

Two or three from the collection look as if they might be pre-Civil-War, particularly this tulip with its
stuffed work quilting.

And this double four-patch with a chintz border.

Apparently the quilts are often exhibited on the beds so if
you visit Arlington House you may be lucky enough to see them.

Union troops and their families on the steps of Arlington House
Library of Congress.

General Samuel Heintzelman occupied the Lee's home immediately after the Civil War began. He and his wife had visited the Lees there a few weeks earlier where Mary Lee showed them the "old-fashioned house" and they admired the view.

The majority of the quilts look to be post-Civil-War.
A solid pink fabric indicates a 20th century date.

And red & white quilts in the Hearts & Gizzards design tend
to be after 1880.

Photo from a 1950 guidebook

Read more about the history of Arlington House here:

And more about Mary Custis Lee's quilts at these two posts:


Pat said...

Thank you for posting this - we will be at Arlington National Cemetery early in September - final graveside services for my Dad and Mom. Visiting Lee's Mansion and seeing those quilts will brighten a difficult time. Hoping they are still on display. I have not toured the Mansion for decades. W

Laurel said...

I'm so glad and thankful that you have memorialized these beautiful quilts in photo graphs. The way things are going, here in Virginia, I'm afraid that it won't be long until the mansion is closed to the public and boarded-up. It is an important part of the history of our country that is being changed and erased. I try to understand but am "older" and respect the people and challenges of the time.