Ford’s Theatre was the location of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on the night of April 14, 1865, while the President and Mrs. Lincoln were attending a performance of the play, “Our American Cousin.” Actor John Wilkes Booth, in this first assassination of an American president, removed Lincoln from leadership at the end of the American Civil War. The old Ford’s Theatre building was first constructed as the First Baptist Church in 1833. In 1859 the structure was abandoned as a place of worship, and in 1861 John T. Ford, a theatre entrepreneur from Baltimore, renovated the building. In December the theatre burned to the ground and in 1863 a more elaborate edifice was constructed.
Photograph of Ford’s Theatrer taken soon after President Lincoln’s assasination
Ford’s Theatre is a three-story brick building with five arched doorways at street level. The exterior walls are the only portions remaining of the 19th century theatre. The National Park Service acquired the theatre in 1933, and the entire interior was reconstructed in the 1960s to recreate its historic appearance on the night of the assassination. The Petersen House is the house where Lincoln died. At the time of Lincoln’s death, the house across from Ford’s Theatre (now 516 10th Street) was owned by William A. Petersen, a German tailor. Petersen constructed the plain red brick three-story and basement townhouse in 1849. The Park Service acquired the house in 1933, and has maintained it as a historic house museum, recreating the scene at the time of Lincoln’s death.
Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site is located at 511 10th St., NW. It is open for tours from 9am to 5pm. The Box Office is open from 8:30am to 5pm. In the event of evening performances, the Box Office will remain open until 8pm. In the event of an evening History on Foot walking tour, the Box Office will remain open until the tour begins. The Petersen House is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm. Admission into the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site is free, but a ticket is required. Metro stop: Gallery Place/Chinatown