A Visit to Ford’s Theater and the Lincoln Death House


Me and Hard Drinkin’ Lincoln

(that’s actually a No Kill I reference, for the kids).


Our Little Field Trip

We had a fun weekend! While Drey was away with the PA Ren Faire, I took the kids to a little backstage tour event that Ford’s Theater was putting on. The event was called “Ford’s Theater Snow Day“– so called because the Theater dumped two tons of artificially created snow in front of the building for people to play in. There was lots of free gnoshes and food samples out front. It wasn’t like COSTCO on Free Sample Day, but they DID have free ice cream, and that makes up for many a deficit.

Snow in August? I don’t get the connection…

That’s Gar making snowballs for his sister’s benefit.

Inside, on the Theater Level (only.. we weren’t allowed on the balconies as they were holding auditions up there), they were holding back stage tours and demonstrating stage makeup techniques for the doting theater going audience.

In the following two shots, the actor who plays Jacob Marley in the Ford’s Theater famous CHRISTMAS CAROL show demonstrates getting made up to look like a ghost and dressed in his ghost outfit.


Backstage stuff

And, of COURSE! There’s the photo that everyone has to take:

The box where Lincoln was shot.

Ford’s theater is a great theater and a historic landmark, but many people forget that an “assassination museum” is downstairs. I didn’t. We went downstairs to find a bustle of activity going on. Kids were being made up with stage wounds and bruises, a living history reenactor was lecturing about the assassination of Lincoln (fascinating stuff) and there were plenty of old “Christmas Carol” costumes around to play dressup with.


Gar being made up with a viscious cut


The Living History chap was quite good.. he did a timeline of the assasination conspiracy and was quite even-handed

I’ve relegated the pictures of Gar and Annie getting made up, comparing their size to Lincoln, eating free ice cream, making snowballs, etc. to this slideshow— Just in case you’re the impatient type and don’t relish family photos.

Museum Displays

If you’ve never visited the museum under Ford’s Theater, I strongly recommend it. There are some fascinating Lincoln and Assassination artifacts on display there.


Lincoln’s Coat and Trousers, removed by the attending physician (his shirt was cut open)

Lincoln’s bloody shirt and waistcoat was sadly cut up by ghoulish souvenier seekers. Here is what remains.

There are many artifacts from the conspirators themselves present in the museum.

Did Booth receive orders from Richmond? Evidence seems to suggest he planned the affair himself, but some reports indicated that his rooms in Washington had cypher equipment, similar to the one shown here. Does this point to a larger conspiracy?

The Riding boot that broke Booth’s leg. Note that it’s split down the center, to assist in removal by Dr. Samuel Mudd


The knife used by Booth to stab Majar Rathbone before leaping on stage


Booth’s Navy Colt revolvers. He did NOT use these on President Lincoln, but they were found on him later.


Booth was killed by Sgt. Boston Corbett in a tobbaco barn in Maryland. He was found with this Sharps carbine still clutched in his hands

The Unfortunate Doctor Mudd

(Hopefully) every school kid knows the story of Doctor Samuel Mudd, who set Booth’s leg and treated his other wounds. For his act of kindness, he was imprisoned for many years. Here are a few Mudd artifacts:


Surgical kit used to treeat Booth


The manacles that Mudd soon found himself in for doing his doctorly duty…

Nice guys finish last!

I had always thought that Lincoln’s DEATH mask was in the Ford’s theater museum, it turns out this was done in 1860, shortly after his first inauguration. Still pretty cool to look at, though.

Lincoln Death House

What tour would be complete without a visit to the imaginatively named HOUSE WHERE LINCOLN DIED museum, across the street from Ford’s Theater? I’ll skip over the Front Parlor and back sitting room (where Stanton set up his field headquarters, demanding that a bed be put there so he could operate around the clock), and go straight to Lincoln’s death bed. If you want to see the rest of the house (what the public can see, anyway, click here for a slideshow).

Can you imagine being the guy who owned this place? Your house is known as “the place Lincoln died” for the rest of time. So much for property values!

Death bed: Lincoln had to lie on this bed diagonally, as he was (duh!) a very tall man for his day.

And that was our little history outing for August!

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