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Ford’s Theatre and Museum

Lincoln Assassination early illustration


Years ago we made a pilgrimage from New Hampshire to Washington, DC to see the place where Lincoln died. Every American should make this journey. Here is our journal of the visit with digital snapshots.




JUMP TO: Peterson House 
READ ALSO: The New Dying Words of John Wilkes Booth

Ford's Theater is just one of two dozen stops on the Washington DC trolley ride. We paid $25 for a 2 1/2 hour ride, but got off for two full hours to see this historic and macabre location. Prices may have risen since then. The blank brick Ford's Theater looks very much as it did when it became the center of attention on April 14, 1865. The Civil War suddenly ended, John Wilkes Booth stood here and decided not to kidnap the President as planned, but to murder him. Booth's plan included the assassination of the vice president and secretary of state as well. An actor familiar with this theater, Booth rigged the door of the Presidential box. The President and his wife Mary Todd arrived late, and Booth visited the bar next door, now the box office, to drink up his nerve to act.

Today the Theater and the Peterson House across the street are run by the National Park Service. It's dark inside, but was air conditioned on the sweltering July day of our visit. Park rangers offer a short narration and the Lincoln Museum is in the basement. And it's all free. The first thing everyone does, once their eyes accept the darkness, is to snap a flash photo of the presidential box where Lincoln was shot. The reconstruction from early photos is eerily precise. The box was draped that day for Lincoln's possible visit. The picture of George Washington is accurate (the theater owner could not find one of Lincoln.) No matter how many pictures or movies you've seen and despite a roomful of tourists, the effect is still powerful. There it is, you think, the spot where it really happened. – JDR

TOur bus arrives at Ford's Theare /

Lincoln Assassination illustration / Library of Congress

Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC/

Box office and former bar at Ford's Theare/

President's Box at Ford's Theatre site of Assassination /

Early photo of Assassination site/ Library of Congress

OUTSIDE LINK: Ford’s Theatre Official Web Site
Original photos and text by J. Dennis Robinson
© 1999 All rights reserved.


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