Ford's Theatre is a historic theater located in Washington, D.C., that was once the site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It was built in 1863 and served as a popular venue for plays, musical performances, and other cultural events until the night of April 14, 1865, when John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in the back of the head while he was watching a play.
The theater was later used as a warehouse but was eventually reopened and restored to its original condition. Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the building, which includes a visit to the balcony where Lincoln was sitting when he was shot, as well as exhibits that explore the life and legacy of the 16th president.
Why visit Ford's Theatre?
Learn more about Abraham Lincoln. Ford's Theatre is not just a historic site, but also a museum that offers an in-depth look at the life and times of Abraham Lincoln. In addition to the assassination conspiracy, its exhibits cover topics like Lincoln's rise to the presidency and his efforts to abolish slavery.
Step back in time. The theater has been beautifully restored to its 19th-century appearance. Visiting this place is like taking a step back in time to experience what it was like to attend a performance in the 1860s.
See where history was made. Standing in the spot where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated is a powerful experience. You can see the box where Lincoln and his wife were sitting, as well as the door through which John Wilkes Booth entered the box.
Attend a performance. In addition to its historical significance, Ford's Theatre is also a functioning theater that hosts a variety of performances throughout the year. From plays to musicals, there's always something for everyone.
Explore the surrounding neighborhood. Ford's Theatre is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., and is surrounded by a number of other historic venues and cultural attractions. You can easily spend a day exploring the area and taking in all that it has to offer.
Best places to visit near Ford’s Theater
Petersen House. This 19th-century house is located directly across the street from Ford's Theatre and was the location where President Lincoln was taken after he was shot. The house is now a museum and has been preserved to look the way it did in 1865.
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Located just a short walk away from Ford's Theatre, this gallery features some of the most important portraits of American historical figures.
Smithsonian American Art Museum. Located just a few steps from Ford's Theatre, this museum is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of American art in the world.
National Museum of American History. This museum is situated a few blocks from Ford's Theatre and is home to some of the most important artifacts in American history, including the original Star-Spangled Banner and the First Ladies' Inaugural Gowns exhibit.
International Spy Museum. The International Spy Museum is located less than a mile away from Ford's Theatre and is a fun and interactive museum dedicated to the history of espionage and spy-craft. You can explore the many exhibits and participate in interactive activities to learn about the world of spies and espionage.
Washington Monument. This monument is located about a mile from Ford's Theatre and is a must-see landmark in Washington, D.C. You can take an elevator to the top floor and enjoy stunning views of the city.
National Mall. This large park stretches from the Lincoln Memorial to the United States Capitol. You can take a leisurely stroll along the Mall and enjoy some of the city's most iconic sights.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Situated right near National Mall, this powerful and moving museum is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
What's the best way to see Ford’s Theater?
Take a tour. Ford's Theatre offers several types of guided and self-guided tours that immerse you in a historical context and provide an in-depth experience.
Attend a performance. Ford's Theatre is still a working theater and hosts a variety of performances throughout the year. Attending a show can be a great way to experience the theater's unique atmosphere and history.
Visit the museum. In addition to the theater itself, Ford's Theatre also houses a museum that tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's presidency, his assassination, and the aftermath. The museum features exhibits with original artifacts, interactive displays, and multimedia presentations.
What are the most interesting and unique facts about Ford’s Theater?
Before becoming a theater, the site was originally a house of worship, built in 1833.
The theater was named after its owner, John T. Ford, who renovated the church into a theater in 1861.
On the night of April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was attending a performance of the play "Our American Cousin" when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth.
The building was reopened as a working theater in 1968, over 100 years after Lincoln’s assassination.