Ford’s Theater National Historic Site

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DC Trip 2023

Washington, DC possesses the largest concentration of National Park Service units of any metropolitan area. I decided to use one of my long weekends in April to visit DC and check a few units off my list. I toured several memorials, monuments and other sites, including Ford’s Theater.

Ford’s Theater

After visiting the WWI Memorial in Pershing Park, I headed over to Ford’s Theatre. I had a timed ticket which included the museum, the one-act play One Destiny and access to the Petersen House. On admittance, our guide led us to the museum beneath the theater to explore the exhibits.

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln in the theater box where he and his wife were watching Our American Cousin. The museum contains artifacts from that fateful night, including the pistol Booth used.

After visiting the museum, the guide let us into the historic theater. The building reopened as a theater in 1968. After Lincoln’s assassination, the government purchased it and used it as a warehouse. Part of the structure collapsed, killing 22 people in 1893. Today, the National Park Service operates the facility in partnership with Ford’s Theatre Society. The presidential box is never occupied.

We enjoyed the performance of One Destiny. During this 40-minute play, two actors re-enact and reflect upon the night of the shooting. They reveal the plot by Booth and his Confederate allies to assassinate Lincoln, Johnson, Grant and Seward. They ask if there was anything they could have done to prevent the tragedy.

After the play, we went across the street to the Petersen House. Soldiers carried Lincoln here after he was shot. Doctors tried to save him, but he never regained consciousness. After walking through the house where Lincoln died, we found ourselves in another museum. The train that carried Lincoln’s body back to Springfield is reproduced here.

2023 DC Trip Posts

Location: 511 10th St NW, Washington, DC
Designation: National Historic Site
Date designated/established: 1932
Date of my visit: April 8, 2023