Under sunny skies on November 8, 2022, seven leaders from Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), the U.S. Army, and contracted engineering firms cut the ribbon at the restored Ord and Weitzel Gate, the northern pedestrian entrance to ANC.
“We had the honor of RE-building history,” said Col. Thomas Austin, ANC’s director of engineering, in his opening remarks. “Reviving a structure with elements that go back nearly 200 years — what an honor that is and how lucky we all are to be part of it.”
A multi-year effort resulted in the restoration of the gate, improvements to the adjacent Custis Walk, and the construction of a new guardhouse. The restored Ord and Weitzel Gate will now provide a pedestrian entrance to the cemetery for visitors coming from either the Rosslyn Metro station or the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. The guardhouse will also improve security for visitors and ANC employees.
The gate was originally built in 1879, under the direction of General Montgomery C. Meigs (who had previously directed the establishment of ANC as quartermaster general of the U.S. Army during the Civil War). The gate’s signature columns once adorned the War Department building in Washington, D.C., completed in 1820. When that building was scheduled for demolition in 1879 (in order to build what is today the Eisenhower, or Old, Executive Office Building), Meigs requested the columns to be reused at ANC, due to their associations with federal period architecture and the nation’s military leaders.
Sculpted urns (now restored) topped the columns as commemorative symbols, and the original iron gate featured decorative elements such as scrollwork and rosettes. In 1902, the Army inscribed the names of distinguished Civil War U.S. Army officers Gen. Edward O.C. Ord and Gen. Godfrey Weitzel on the columns, giving the gate its name. The gate was disassembled in 1979, when it could no longer accommodate wider, modern vehicles.
Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director, Office of Army Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery, hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She described the gate’s restoration and reopening as “an important milestone in ANC’s long-range plan to preserve our priceless monument and architectural history.” After providing the audience with a history of the gate, she announced, “What is old here at Arlington is once again made new. I can think of no better way to express our dedication to these historic sites in both remembrance and rejuvenation.”
Col. Brian Hallberg, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, thanked representatives from Arlington National Cemetery as well as engineering contractors WSP, Maverick Regan Construction, Lorton Stone, and Berry Pairing and Concrete.
Then it was time for the ribbon cutting. Col. Austin instructed each person to be careful with their large pairs of scissors and to hold a portion of the ribbon with their free hand. He called out, “One… two… three!” and everyone cut. The Ord and Weitzel Gate is now ready to serve the cemetery again.