Obelisk in Washington, D.C., U.S., honouring George Washington, the first president of the United States. Based on a design by Robert Mills (b. 1781 — d. 1855), it was built between 1848 and 1884. It is constructed of granite faced with Maryland marble and is some 555.5 ft (169.3 m) high, the world's tallest masonry structure. Inserted in the interior walls are more than 190 carved stones presented by various individuals, cities, states, and foreign countries. It is located on grounds that are a westward extension of the Mall. The top can be reached by elevator or by an interior iron stairway. It underwent a major restoration in the 1990s and reopened in 2001.
Billionaire Donates $7.5 Million To Fix Washington Monument
Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein will pay for half of the repairs needed after last summer's quake.| Posted Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, at 1:51 PM ET
Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.
The co-founder of one of the world's largest private equity funds will donate $7.5 million to help repair the shuttered Washington Monument, government officials announced Thursday.
The donation from David Rubenstein, the managing director of the Carylye Group, which he held found in 1987, matches the amount allocated by Congress to fix the 555-foot-tall monument, which was damaged this past summer during the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the East Coast in August.
In an interview with the Washington Post, the 62-year-old billionaire said that he offered to come forward after government officials indicated they were looking for private donors to pay for half of the needed repairs. "They would put up half the money for the repairs," Rubenstein said. "As a good citizen, I would put up half of it myself."
The high-profile donation from the private-equity titan comes at a time when the sector has taken its share of hits lately, particularly on the campaign trail where both Republicans and Democrats have questioned its role in job creation. But Rubenstein's gift appears to have been in the works well before Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital became the focus of attack ads; the National Park Service said that Rubenstein came forward to offer financial help almost immediately after the monument's damage was found.
"I would suggest it hadn’t even stopped shaking before David Rubenstein came to me and asked if he could help,” the park service's director, Jonathan Jarvis, told the Associated Press.
The donation also comes on the heels of other, seven-figure gifts to major national attractions from Rubenstein, including a $13.5 million donation to the National Archives and a $4.5 million gift to help out the National Zoo's giant panda program.
The AP reports that the combined $15 million in repair funds will likely cover the cost of repairing the damage caused to the structure during the quake, but not necessarily the water damage or a seismic study or reinforcements to bolster the monument against future earthquakes. Repairs to the monument will likely take at least a year to complete.