Since it reopened its doors in 1968, more than a hundred years after the April 14, 1865, assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Ford’s theatre has been one of the most visited sites in the nation’s capital. Ford’s Theatre has enthralled visitors because of its unique place in United States history, and its mission to celebrate the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and explore the American experience through theatre and education.
Ford’s Theatre Society works with the National Park Service in a rare and successful public-private partnership to present the Theatre’s nearly one million visitors each year with a high quality historic and cultural experience. Together, both organizations work to enhance the vibrancy of this historic site, an important tool for promoting the ideals of leadership, humanity and wisdom espoused by Abraham Lincoln.
Ford’s Theatre is recognized as a major center for learning, where people of all ages can examine the events of that fateful evening in 1865, and enjoy opportunities to emulate the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
THE PETERSEN HOUSE
The Petersen House is where President Lincoln died after being shot at the Ford’s Theater. Attendants, including Dr. Charles Leale, carried the President onto 10th street. The doctor decided to take him to Petersen’s boarding house across the street. The streets were extremely crowded with people, because of the uproar. A captain cleared the way to the brick federal style rowhouse. Then he was taken into the bedroom in the rear of the parlors and placed on a bed that was not long enough for him. Mrs. Lincoln was escorted across the street by Clara Harris, who had been in the box during the shooting, and whose fiancé, Henry Rathbone, had been stabbed by Booth during the assassination. Rathbone, bleeding severely from the knife wound in his arm, collapsed due to loss of blood after arriving at Petersen House.
During the night and early morning, military guards patrolled outside to prevent onlookers from coming inside the house. A parade of government officials and physicians was allowed to come inside and pay respects to the unconscious President. The external and internal hemorrhaging continued throughout the night. Lincoln died in the house on April 15, 1865 at 7:22am at age 56.