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Ford's Theatre National Historic Site

Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site

Explore Ford's Theatre National Historic Site to learn about Abraham Lincoln's life in Washington DC, the struggle for a united country, and the motivation behind Lincoln's Assassination.

Ford's Theatre NHS protects Ford's Theatre and the Petersen House, two highly significant sites known for their role in President Abraham Lincoln's assassination. On April 14th, 1865, President Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theatre while attending a play. Following the assassination, the unconscious Lincoln was carried across the street to the Petersen's boarding house, where he died at 7:22 am on April 15.

Housed in a building directly across the street from Ford's Theatre and acquired by the Ford's Theatre Society in 2007, the Center features two floors of permanent exhibits addressing the immediate aftermath of Lincoln's death and the evolution of Lincoln's legacy; a Leadership Gallery floor to be used for rotating exhibits, lecture and reception space; and two floors of education studios to house pre- and post-visit workshops, after-school programs and teacher professional development.

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Image Credit: Ford's Theatre National Historic Site

History

The Ford's Theatre building was first constructed in 1833 as the First Baptist Church. In 1859, the structure was abandoned as a place of worship. John T. Ford, a theatre entrepreneur from Baltimore, leased the building in 1861. A church board member predicted a dire fate would fall anyone who turned the former house of worship into a theatre. In 1862, Ford renovated the theatre and performances began, setting in motion events to follow that would shake America to its core.

The Petersen House (House Where Lincoln Died) at 516 10th street was the home of William and Anna Petersen. On the night of April 14, 1865 the mortally wounded president was carried to a back bedroom in this house. The Petersen family aided as they could, although on this night their home was no longer their own. Over 90 people would come and go through the house to pay their last respects to the dying president. 

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Last updated: March 02, 2021
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