Ford’s Theatre is the site of one of the most tragic events in American history.
President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary were attending a play at the theatre on the night of 14 April 1865 when an assassin snuck into the presidential box where the couple were seated, shooting the president once from behind. The stunned audience watched in horror as the assassin jumped down to the stage, wielding a dagger before running from the theatre and galloping off into the dark night. Lincoln was carried across the street to the Peterson House where the 16th president died several hours later.
The historic theatre is still an active venue for live stage performances and hosts cultural events and some of Washington’s most popular productions. It is also a solemn memorial for America’s greatest president. The presidential box remains unoccupied, looking just as it did on that fateful night in 1865 and Lincoln’s legacy is strongly felt when visiting the theatre. Visitors are able to climb the same stairs the assassin used to reach the box, and view the room where the tragedy took place.
The theatre makes up part of the Ford’s Theatre Museum Campus which includes the theatre itself, a Lincoln museum that includes many of Lincoln’s personal effects, the Peterson House and the Center for Education and Leadership. The center promotes the study of Lincoln and his presidency and the theatre has regular stage performances around the subject of his life and legacy. Across the street, the Peterson House is preserved in its 1865 décor, where visitors can view the room and the bed where the great man died.
Ford’s Theatre can be reached on the Metro and is just blocks away from Metro Center Station. Proceed east along G Street for two blocks, turning right on 10th Street. The theatre is just past F Street. Washington D.C. is an easy city to walk and the theatre is situated about two blocks north of Pennsylvania Avenue, approximately half way between The White House and U.S. Capitol.