WASHINGTON, D.C.—Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, and Trust for the National Mall President Caroline Cunningham today announced a $7.5 million donation from philanthropist David M. Rubenstein to repair damage to the Washington Monument caused by a magnitude 5.8 earthquake last August. The gift matches federal funds approved by Congress in December and completes the funding necessary for the overall repair project.
Rubenstein's donation will be made through the Trust for the National Mall, the National Park Service's philanthropic partner whose Campaign for the National Mall will raise $350 million over five to seven years towards the $650 million needed to restore the National Mall.
“On behalf of all Americans, I would like to thank David Rubenstein for his extraordinary gift to repair one of our nation's most hallowed symbols,” said Deputy Secretary Hayes. “Thanks to his patriotism and generosity, we will be able to move forward with the necessary repairs to reopen the monument to the public. With this donation, David continues the great tradition of philanthropists such as Stephen Mather, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Andrew Mellon who have made significant donations to our National Park System for the benefit of every American.”
"America has been very good to me and I am humbled to be able to honor the father of our country in this way,” said David M. Rubenstein, Co-founder of The Carlyle Group. “Re-opening the monument as soon as possible will help ensure that many people get to learn about American history and the unique role that George Washington played in the birth and life of our great nation."
The August 23, 2011 earthquake damaged both the exterior and interior of the Washington Monument, with the heaviest damage in the Pyramidion (pointy top), between elevations 475 feet and 530 feet. The damage includes cracks of up to 1 inch wide in some of the marble blocks. Other damage includes spalling of the stones, missing mortar, displaced components of the lightning protection system, and damage to the elevator counter weight frame. The National Park Service expects to award a contract to repair the monument by this August; work is expected to take 10-12 months.
“Millions of people have seen the dramatic video of chunks of mortar and limestone raining down on visitors in the monument as the quake rocked the east coast last August,” said National Park Service Director Jarvis. “While no one was hurt, the damage to this iconic obelisk was substantial and it has been closed to the public ever since. Thanks to David's gift and the support of the American people, the National Park Service will once again welcome visitors to the Washington Monument and share the story of our nation's first president.”
“David Rubenstein is a true patriot and we are grateful for his significant and generous contribution to restore the Washington Monument, one of America's greatest treasures,” said Caroline Cunningham, President of the Trust for the National Mall. “David's leadership demonstrates how the public/private partnership of the Trust and the National Park Service will successfully drive the restoration and enhancement of the National Mall, home to the hope, history and heroes of America.”
The donations of philanthropists long have been vital to the National Park System; in fact, the park system benefited from private contributions even before Congress created the National Park Service on August 25, 1916. In 1907, Mr. and Mrs. William Kent donated what became Muir Woods National Monument, California.
Before and after he became the first director of the National Park Service in 1917, Stephen T. Mather contributed much from his personal fortune to support the parks and their administration.
The contributions of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and his son Laurance S. Rockefeller to expand the national park system are especially remarkable. They gave more than $3 million for land and park roads at Acadia, more than $2 million to enlarge and improve Grand Teton National Park, more than $5 million for land to establish Great Smoky Mountains National Park, more than $2 million for the land comprising Virgin Islands National Park, and millions more to help create and support other parks.
[Note to editors: see newly released footage of the damage to the Washington Monument on the National Park Service's YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice]