Ford's Theatre: The Historic Site For Performance Arts

Are you looking for a unique and historic place to visit in Washington, DC? If so, you might want to check out Ford’s Theatre, the site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Ford’s Theatre is a museum, a working theater, and a national historic landmark that tells the story of Lincoln’s life and legacy.

In this blog post, we will give you a brief overview of the history of Ford’s Theatre, what you can find there today and some advice for visitors who want to make the most of their experience. Whether you are a history buff, a theater lover, or just curious about one of the most dramatic events in American history, Ford’s Theatre is a must-see attraction in the nation’s capital.

The History of Ford's Theatre

Ford’s Theatre was originally built in 1833 as a Baptist church. In 1861, it was converted into a theater by John T. Ford, a prominent theater owner and manager. The theater quickly became one of the most popular venues in Washington, DC, attracting famous actors and politicians alike.

One of the theater’s most frequent patrons was President Abraham Lincoln, who loved the performing arts and often attended shows with his wife, Mary. On April 14, 1865, Lincoln and his wife visited Ford’s Theatre to watch a comedy called Our American Cousin. During the third act of the play, John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer and actor, entered the presidential box and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. Booth then leaped onto the stage, shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis!” (Latin for “Thus always to tyrants”), and escaped through the back door. Lincoln was carried across the street to the Petersen House, where he died the following day.

The assassination of Lincoln shocked and saddened the nation and marked a turning point in the Civil War and American history. Ford’s Theatre was closed by the government and used as an office building and a warehouse for many years. In 1932, it was reopened as a museum by the National Park Service, and in 1968, it was restored to its 1865 appearance and reopened as a working theater. Today, Ford’s Theatre is part of the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, which also includes the Petersen House, the Center for Education and Leadership, and the Lincoln Museum.

What can you find in Ford's Theatre?

Ford’s Theatre offers visitors a variety of ways to learn about Lincoln’s life and legacy, as well as the history and culture of his time. Here are some of the things you can find in Ford’s Theatre:

  • The Theater: You can see the theater as it looked on the night of Lincoln’s assassination, including the presidential box where he was shot. You can also watch live performances of plays and musicals that explore American history and culture, such as A Christmas Carol, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and The Mountaintop.
  • The Museum: You can see exhibits that display artifacts related to Lincoln’s assassination, such as his clothing, his pocket watch, Booth’s pistol, and the bullet that killed him. You can also learn about Lincoln’s presidency, his views on slavery and emancipation, his family life, and his impact on American society.
  • The Petersen House: You can visit the house where Lincoln died and see the bedroom where he spent his last hours. You can also see exhibits that tell the story of his funeral and legacy.
  • The Center for Education and Leadership: You can explore interactive exhibits that show how Lincoln’s life and death have influenced American history and culture, from politics and art to civil rights and popular culture. You can also see a three-story tower of books that represent all the works written about Lincoln.
  • The Lincoln Museum: You can see exhibits that showcase Lincoln’s personal belongings, such as his hat, his glasses, his wallet, and his shaving kit. You can also see exhibits that highlight his achievements and challenges as president, such as his inaugural addresses, cabinet members, military strategies, and assassination.

Advice for Visitors

If you want to visit Ford’s Theatre, here are some tips to make your experience more enjoyable:

When is it open?

Ford’s Theatre is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The museum opens at 8:30 a.m., and the Petersen House opens at 9:30 a.m. The last entry is at 4 p.m.

What to wear?

There is no dress code for visiting Ford’s Theatre, but you should dress comfortably and appropriately for the weather. Consider bringing a jacket or sweater, as the theatre can be chilly.

Is it family-friendly?

Ford’s Theatre is a great place to visit with your family. Children of all ages can enjoy the museum and the theatre and participate in educational programs and activities. However, some parts of the museum and the Petersen House may be disturbing or upsetting for young children, so parental discretion is advised.

When is it best to visit?

Ford’s Theatre is a popular attraction that can get crowded during peak hours and seasons. If you want to avoid long lines and crowds, you should visit early in the morning, late in the afternoon, during weekdays, or off-seasons. You can also book your tickets online in advance, as they may sell out quickly.

A Piece of District of Columbia At Your Reach

Ford’s Theatre is more than just a theatre; it is a place to immerse yourself in American history and culture. Whether you are interested in Lincoln’s life and death or the art of theatre and storytelling, you will find something to inspire you at Ford’s Theatre. Take advantage of this opportunity to visit one of the most historic sites in Washington, DC!

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A Trip Through Washington’s D.C. Landmarks to Reach Castle Floor Coatings

Route Overview: The White House to 42575 Sunset Ridge Square, Ashburn, VA 20148, USA

Stop 1: The White House

  •  Head east on H St NW toward Madison Pl NW: 0.2 mi
  •  Turn right onto 15th St NW: 0.6 mi
  •  Turn right onto Constitution Ave. NW: 0.8 mi
  •  Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto Henry Bacon Dr NW: 0.2 mi
  •  Henry Bacon Dr NW turns slightly right and becomes Lincoln Memorial Cir NW: 108 ft

 Arrival: Lincoln Memorial, 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20002, United States

Stop 2: Lincoln Memorial

  •  Head east on Lincoln Memorial Cir NW toward Henry Bacon Dr NW: 108 ft
  •  Lincoln Memorial Cir NW turns slightly left and becomes Henry Bacon Dr NW: 0.2 mi
  •  Use any lane to turn right onto Constitution Ave. NW: 1.4 mi
  •  Turn right onto 7th St NW: 0.4 mi
  •  Turn left onto Maryland Ave SW, destination will be on the right: 135 ft

 Arrival: 600 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA

Stop 3: 600 Maryland Ave SW

  •  Head east on Maryland Ave SW toward 6th St SW: 469 ft
  •  Turn left onto 6th St SW: 253 ft
  •  Turn right onto Independence Ave SW: 0.6 mi
  •  Continue straight onto Independence Ave SE: 0.1 mi
  •  Turn left onto First St SE: 0.2 mi

 Arrival: United States Capitol, Washington, DC 20004, United States

Stop 4: United States Capitol

  •  Head north on First St NE toward Constitution Ave NE: 315 ft
  •  Turn left onto Constitution Ave NE: 0.6 mi
  •  Continue onto Pennsylvania Avenue NW: 331 ft

 Arrival: National Gallery of Art, Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20565, United States

Stop 5: National Gallery of Art

  •  Head northwest on Pennsylvania Avenue NW toward Pennsylvania Avenue NW: 322 ft
  •  Turn left onto Constitution Ave. NW: 1.1 mi
  •  Turn right onto 17th St NW: 0.7 mi
  •  Continue onto Connecticut Ave NW, pass by the pharmacy on the right in 1.6 mi: 2.2 mi
  •  Turn right onto North Rd: 0.8 mi
  •  Turn left onto National Zoo Dr NW, closed Sun–Fri 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM, this road may be seasonally closed: 223 ft

 Arrival: National Zoo Dr NW, Washington, DC, USA

Stop 6: National Zoo Dr NW

  •  Head east on National Zoo Dr NW toward Rock Crk Trl, parts of this road are closed Sun–Fri 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM, this road may be seasonally closed: 16 sec (240 ft)
  •  Take Rock Creek and Potomac Pkwy NW to Independence Ave SW: 12 min (4.8 mi)

 Arrival: 1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20227, USA

Stop 7: 1964 Independence Ave SW

  •  Head west on Independence Ave SW toward West Basin Dr SW: 0.3 mi
  •  Make a Uturn at 23rd St SW: 1.2 mi
  •  Turn left onto 12th St SW: 0.1 mi
  •  Slight right onto 12th St Expy: 0.2 mi
  •  Continue straight onto 12th St NW: 0.4 mi
  •  Turn right onto F St NW: 0.1 mi
  •  Turn right at the 2nd cross street onto 10th St NW, destination will be on the left: 112 ft

 Arrival: Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States

Stop 8: Ford’s Theatre

  •  Get on I66 W: 9 min (2.0 mi)
  •  Head south on 10th St NW toward E St NW: 0.3 mi
  •  Use the right 2 lanes to turn right onto Constitution Ave. NW: 1.3 mi
  •  Use the middle 2 lanes to take the ramp onto I66 W: 0.4 mi
  •  Follow I66 W and VA267 W to VA659 S in Ashburn. Take exit 4 from VA267 W: 31 min (31.1 mi)

 Arrival: 42575 Sunset Ridge Square, Ashburn, VA 20148, USA