February 15, 2016 / 8:54 PM / a year ago

U.S. philanthropist donates $18.5 million to restore Lincoln Memorial

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Cyclists pass each other by the frozen Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool (left) during the annual cleaning in Washington January 19, 2016. TGary Cameron

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Philanthropist David Rubenstein has donated $18.5 million to restore the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, the National Park Service said on Monday, the Presidents Day holiday.

The memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, will undergo masonry repair, cleaning, conservation of murals, renovations and have an elevator added to improve accessibility.

The work will also allow visitors to view the foundation pillars and graffiti left by workers who built it, the National Park Service said in a statement.

"This donation will not only safeguard one of our most visited and recognizable memorials, but will preserve Lincoln's legacy for future generations to appreciate," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said.

The white-columned memorial at the west end of the National Mall was dedicated in 1922. It is one of the U.S. capital's major tourist attractions and was the site of the "I have a dream" speech in 1963 by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Rubenstein, co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group, is one of the Washington area's leading philanthropists. His donations include $7.5 million in 2012 to restore the Washington Monument after an earthquake and $12.35 million to rebuild Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, in 2014.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Alan Crosby

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