The Washington Monument has received funding in the form of a $7.5 million gift which was given to enable repairs to the substantial damage caused by the 5.8 earthquake that occurred on Aug. 23, 2011.
Closed since the damage was incurred, philanthropist David M. Rubenstein donated the multi-million dollar gift to help get the DC landmark reopened to visitors, reported the Washington Times.
Rubenstein, of Bethesda, Md., is the co-founder of the Carlyle Group investment firm.
The Washington Post Local reported Rubenstein's donation will be coupled with a government grant of $7.5 million. Rubenstein said in an interview he agreed to split the $15 million repair bill.
Rubenstein said the gift is a way to “repay my debt to the country," adding, "The city has been wonderful to me and my family,” he said Thursday morning at the base of the 555-foot-tall monument.
In Dec. Congress had approved the $7.5 expenditure to fix the damaged landmark, reported WUSA 9. Congress was looking for matching funds to assist in the cost of repairs.
“I am committed to philanthropy,” Rubenstein said. “I committed to giving away a large amount of my wealth. . . . I am very involved in historic kinds of things. . . . This is something that is quite historic.”
Rubenstein, who grew up in Baltimore, Md., was reportedly not born into the billions he is worth today, had recalled visiting the grand monument when he was a child. “What greater symbol is there in Washington of our country?” he said. “I just thought it would be a good thing for the country to have it back as soon as possible.
“And I also think public-private partnerships are a good thing,” he said. “And more and more things, probably the private sector will have to help with, because the government doesn’t have all the money that it used to have.”
Post Local said officials at the Trust for the National Mall, were "jubilant."
“I’m so excited,” said Caroline Cunningham, the group’s president. “This is an extraordinarily generous contribution . . . and a true patriotic commitment to one of the most important symbols of our country.”
Cunningham said that Rubenstein approached National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and said: “You got a cracked monument. How can I help?”
Cunningham spoke of Rubenstein's passion and preservation of U.S. history and said he is “one of those people who’s made a commitment to pass on his wealth and invest in this country."
The National Park Service (NPS) has said it does not know the length of time the monument will be closed. Some estimates say it will be approximately a year, depending on when contracts to perform the work are awarded. CNN reported work is likely to start late summer or early fall 2012.
Photos of a giant panda at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.
Last month Digital Journal reported the philanthropist's $4.5 million gift to the National Zoo in order to help fund its giant panda reproduction program for an additional five years. Reportedly Rubenstein gave away over $20 million to the city last year.
The earthquake last summer, with an epicenter in Va., caused damage to several historic structures in the mid-Atlantic region including the National Cathedral.