After a thorough renovation, Ford’s Theatre has become a showcase of programs and performances, as well as the home of an expanded collection focused on the lead-up and aftermath of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
The theater is still mounting rousing productions, and park rangers offer tours of the stage before leading visitors to the museum belowground. The display includes the size-14 boots and the blood-spattered overcoat Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated on April 4, 1865 (ironically, it was Good Friday); the derringer that John Wilkes Booth used to kill him; the boot Dr. Samuel Mudd cut off of his broken leg; and other memorabilia.
Across the street from the theater is the townhouse owned by the Peterson family, where President Lincoln was taken after he was shot, and where he eventually died.
It leads to the Aftermath Museum next door, which follows Lincoln’s funeral train, illuminates the capture of his assassins, and demonstrates Lincoln’s impact on the world.
When you exit the museum, note the winding staircase with a 34-foot tower of books about Abraham Lincoln. At three stories high, the tower features 205 titles from more than 50 publishers. They represent just a fraction of the 15,000 titles written about President Abraham Lincoln.
Good to Know
If a matinee or play rehearsal is scheduled, the theater (but not the museum) will be closed to visitors. Occasionally Ford’s offers a tour that involves an actor playing Detective James McDevitt on a walking tour of downtown Washington as he investigates the Assassination Conspiracy.
The tours are conducted by the National Park Service daily, but, as it is a regular stop on every 8th-grade class trip, you might try to work around those groups by going early or late in the day. It’s recommended that you make reservations in advance, but you can try stopping by for a timed ticket.
Ford’s Theatre is located 511 Tenth St. N.W. and offers timed entry daily from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. with a last entrance at 4 p.m. The Peterson House is open from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with a last entrance at 5 p.m. Admission to the theater, the museum, and the Peterson House is free of charge.
Advance tickets are available from ticketmaster.com (800-397-SEAT) for a fee of $3 per ticket. A limited number of same-day tickets are available at the box office. Note that there is a limit of six tickets per person for same-day tickets.
There is no food available on site. The nearest Metro stations are Metro Center of Federal Triangle. For more details visit the website or call 202-426-6924. Check for current and upcoming performances here.
For all there is to see and do in Washington, D.C., check out The Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C. by Renee Sklarew.