America's transfer from Civil War to peace was made more difficult on April 14, 1865, when Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed just five days after General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. A well-known actor, John Wilkes Booth, desperate to aid the dying Confederacy, stepped into the president's theatre box and assassinated Mr Lincoln. Booth escaped into the night as Abraham Lincoln was carried to the Petersen boarding house across the street. It was there that President Lincoln died early the next morning. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated.
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. Soldiers stood guard at the front door and were posted on the roof to keep the growing crowds at bay. While doctors cared for the president the Petersen family and some of the boarders spent the night in the basement. At 7:22 am, April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln died in the back bedroom of this humble house.
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.
In general, Ford's Theatre National Historic Site is open every day except for Thanksgiving Day and December 25, however, Ford's Theatre is an active theatre, and there are times when the site is closed for matinees, rehearsals and special events. When this happens, the Petersen House (house where Lincoln died) will remain open for visitation.
Ford's Theatre National Historic Site is open for tours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Box Office is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. In the event of evening performances, the Box Office will remain open until 8 pm. In the event of an evening History on Foot walking tour, the Box Office will remain open until the tour begins.
The Petersen House:
The Petersen House (House Where Lincoln Died) is open for tours from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
The theatre is open at 9:00 a.m. with the last entrance into the theatre at 4:30 p.m. The box office opens daily at 8:30 a.m. The Petersen House is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tickets are required for entrance into Ford's Theatre and the Petersen House.
Admission to Ford's Theatre is free. Visitors 2 years of age and older wishing to tour the site must present a timed entry ticket. Same day tickets will be available at the Box Office beginning at 8:30 a.m. There is a limit of six tickets per person for the same day tickets.
Timed Entry Tour Tickets:
Tickets for timed entry to visit Ford's Theatre may be reserved Online via Ticketmaster or by calling 1-800-982-2787.
Join a Ranger Program. Park Rangers and Park Volunteers do a variety of programs, including Living History and Informal Interpretive programs.
Attend One Destiny (offered in the spring and early summer), featuring costumed actors who portray two historical figures present the night of the assassination.
Tour Ford's Theatre Museum, see rare artifacts such as the deringer used by John Wilkes Booth. 30-45 minutes. Rent an Acoustiguide an audio tour available in both youth and adult versions and featuring character voices, sound effects and historic photos related to the history of Ford's Theatre. Or take a walking tour of the neighborhood around Ford's Theatre with a historic figure from Civil War Washington.
Gift shop in the theater
Center for Education and Leadership
Ford’s Theatre strives to make art and history accessible to people with disabilities by removing barriers and providing opportunities.
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.