What better way to celebrate President’s Day on Monday, February 20 than to step back in time and tour a landmark linked to President Abraham Lincoln. Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC is a short 2 hour drive away from Central Pennsylvania. This educational trip is family friendly and affordable, only $3.50 a ticket!
When Ford’s Theater was first built in the 1800’s, it was originally opened as a playhouse by John T. Ford until a tragic event. On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated while watching a play at the theater. John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, shot Lincoln in the back of the head as he sat in his private box. Lincoln died the next day.
After the assassination of President Lincoln, the theater was closed for several years and was used as a government office building. In the early 20th century, the theater was purchased by the National Park Service and underwent a major renovation. It was reopened to the public in 1968 as a museum and performing arts venue.
Today, Ford’s Theater is a National Historic Site and is open to the public for tours. Some of the highlights of the tour include:
- The Presidential Box: Visitors can see the box where President Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated. The box has been restored to its appearance on the night of the assassination, and visitors can learn more about the events of that fateful evening.
- The Lincoln Museum: The museum features exhibits about the life and presidency of Abraham Lincoln, including artifacts such as the gloves he wore on the night of his assassination and the gun Booth used to assassinate the president. There are also countless photographs and documents from his time in office.
- The Theater: Visitors can see the theater itself, which has been restored to its appearance in the 1860s. The tour includes information about the history of the theater and its role in the Civil War.
- The Petersen House: Visitors can also take a tour of the Petersen House, which is across the street from Ford’s Theater. This is where President Lincoln was taken after he was shot, and where he died the next day. Visitors can see the room where Lincoln died and learn more about the events surrounding his death.
- The Center for Education and Leadership: Additionally, visitors can also visit the Center for Education and Leadership, which is located next to the theater. The Center features exhibits and interactive displays that explore the legacy of President Lincoln, the Civil War and its aftermath, and the history of Ford’s Theater.
The tour is self-guided and visitors can take their time to explore the different exhibits and historical sites. A ranger or a park guide is available to answer questions and provide additional information about the history of Ford’s Theater. The theater also hosts plays and other performances, making it a popular destination for both history buffs and theater-goers.
In addition to its historical significance as the site of Lincoln’s assassination, Ford’s Theater is also notable for its role in the Civil War. During the war, it was used as a hospital for Union soldiers and later as a barracks for troops.