US philanthropist donates $18.5M to restore Lincoln Memorial

Visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC

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.

Look back at the Lincoln Memorial through the years:

Lincoln Memorial history
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US philanthropist donates $18.5M to restore Lincoln Memorial
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBURARY 15: The Lincoln Memorial is seen February 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. Rubenstein announced he is giving 18 million dollars to make improvements to the Lincoln Memorial. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1914: Lincoln Memorial Undergoes Construction as cranes lift blocks of marble atop Greek Columned Monument to the 16th President (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
379536 10: Crowds gather outside the Lincoln Memorial for a Memorial Day dedication in 1922 in Washington DC. (Photo by National Archives/Newsmakers)
Aerial view of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, USA, from a Zeppelin, 1928 (1933). A photograph from Zeppelin-Weltfahrten, Vom ersten Luftschiff 1899 bis zu den Fahrten des LZ127 Graf Zeppelin 1932, Dresden, 1933. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Lincoln Memorial In Washington, DC, 1955. (Photo by Frederic Lewis/Getty Images)
380887 23: Demonstrators gather in front of the Lincoln Memorial for a civil rights rally August 28, 1963 in Washington. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)
NOV 7 1963, NOV 24 1964; A plain and Practical Government Building Contrasts with the Grand Lincoln Memorial; (Photo By Lowell Georgia/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
An unidentified woman photographs the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, May 1971. (Photo by Joseph Klipple/Getty Images)
Four American flags on the National Mall with the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool visible, with a traffic circle in the foreground, at dawn, Washington DC, 1973. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - 1988/01/01: USA, Washington D.c., Lincoln Memorial. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
146027 11: (NO NEWSWEEK - NO USNEWS) Aretha Franklin sings in front of the Lincoln Memorial January 17, 1993 in Washington, DC. Numerous musicians and performers gathered in front of the Memorial to celebrate the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/Liaison)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: An unidentified National Park Service worker cleans the statue of Abraham Lincoln 25 October as part of the annual cleaning of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read JOYCE NALTCHAYAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A couple feed ducks at the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC April 10, 1999. Sunny skies and temperatures in the low sixties marked a beautiful spring day in the nation's capital. (Photo by Michael Smith)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Dusk view of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: Tourists cross the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial 14 July 2001 in Washington, DC. The Washington DC Convention and Tourism Corp. predicts there will be about 5 million visitors during June, July and August this year, slightly fewer than last summer due to the slowing economy. About 17.7 million visitors come to the District each year; the busiest seasons are spring and fall. AFP PHOTO/TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 18: Inauguration of the 43th president of the United States Georges W. Bush in Washington, United States on January 18, 2001 - Lincoln memorial. (Photo by Pool BASSIGNAC/BUU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
The Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting pond at sunrise in Washington DC (Photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 25: Lincoln Memorial statue by Daniel Chester French, Washington, D.C. (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
Washington, UNITED STATES: A statue of former US President Abraham Lincoln looks out over the National Mall from the inside of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, 21 July 2007. Opened to the public in 1922 and designed by Henry Bacon, the memorial to America's 16th president includes carved inscriptions of Lincoln's second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address, two of his most famous speeches. AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

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