Visit Ford's Theater To Pay Homage This President's Day

14 Feb
February 14, 2013

One of the perks of living in Washington, D.C. is being right next to so many historical sites. A lesser known perk of this town, is that most companies follow the federal government’s schedule, so offices all around the Metro area will be closed this upcoming Monday for President’s Day.

While many buildings will be shuttered, it doesn’t meant there won’t be plenty to do. All of the museums in the city will be open, with some having events honoring the greatest people this country has ever seen. Of course we celebrate presidents on President’s Day. And this year is a perfect time to pay your respect to one of this country’s greatest leaders, Abraham Lincoln.

There’s certainly the Lincoln Memorial, on the Mall to walk around, but there’s also another way to learn plenty about one of the greatest leaders this country has ever seen. Right downtown, on 10th Street NW, between E and F Streets, is Ford’s Theater.

Ford’s Theater has been in Washington, D.C. since the onset of the Civil War. It was once an old Baptist church, but was purchased and renovated by John T. Ford, and became one of the premier locations for plays in the city. Although it quickly became popular, the venue was only open for four years. On April 14th, 1865, just days after the Civil War ended, Lincoln was assassinated there by John Wilkes Booth. The theater closed in the aftermath, and remained shut down for over 100 years.

In 1968, it reopened, part as a working stage and part historical site. Ford’s Theater just completed another round of renovations, and it now includes a museum covering the history of 1860s Washington, D.C. as well as the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. It also still contains a working theater, and this President’s Day, visitors can experience both those aspects.

Tours of the museum and theater run almost every half hour on President’s Day. In the museum, you can see artifacts from both Lincoln’s presidency and the day he died, including the tiny gun Booth used, as well as the clothing Lincoln wore when he passed.

Serious history buffs can also tour the Petersen House, which is directly across the street from Ford’s Theater. It was there Abraham Lincoln was rushed to after being shot. And it was there is where he succumbed almost 12 hours later, the first president in our history to be killed while in office.

Tickets for a full tour of Ford’s Theater and the Petersen House are very inexpensive. Access to the museum is under $4 for adults. Along with that comes admission to the Petersen House. On President’s Day, Ford’s Theater opens at 9:00 a.m. and doesn’t close to the public until 4 p.m.

Also premiering for the first time this year is One Destiny. The play typically runs at Ford’s Theater every spring from March to May, with this a special showing on President’s Day. One Destiny tells the story of Lincoln’s death from the perspective of two people in the theater that night: the lead actor of the play and the stage manager at the time. Together, the two of them discuss what  could have been done to stop the shooting. It’s a very unique take of an evening already steeped in history.

So this President’s Day, if you’re one of the fortunate employees to get the day off, take some time to admire one of D.C.’s most historic sites and greatest presidents.

- David

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