Ford’s Theatre celebrates the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln and explores the American experience through theatre and education. A working theatre, historical monument, world-class museum and learning center, Ford’s Theatre is the premier destination in Washington, D.C., to explore and celebrate Lincoln’s ideals and leadership principles: courage, integrity, tolerance, equality and creative expression.
Ford’s Theatre History
In 1861 theatre manager John T. Ford leased out the abandoned First Baptist Church on Tenth Street to create Ford’s Theatre. Over the next few years, the venue became a popular stage for theatrical and musical productions. On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln visited Ford’s for his twelfth time for a performance of Our American Cousin. At this performance, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth; he died the next morning in the Petersen House, a boarding house located across the street. Ford’s Theatre remained closed for more than 100 years.
Ford’s Theatre officially reopened in 1968 as a national historic site and working theatre. It is operated through a public-private partnership between Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service.
Ford’s Theatre Today
Through its inspiring theatrical productions, live historic interpretation and engaging education programs, Ford’s Theatre offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in America’s past while revealing meaningful connections to today.
Over the last several years, Ford’s has been engaged in a dramatic expansion and renovation. In 2009, Ford’s reopened a restored and renovated theatre along with a re-imagined museum, illuminating the world of Civil War Washington and the years of Lincoln’s presidency. In 2012, Ford’s opened the new Center for Education and Leadership, expanding the pathways for connecting with Lincoln’s legacy.
As a working theatre, Ford’s produces renowned plays, vibrant musicals and newly commissioned works that captivate and entertain while examining political and social issues related to Lincoln’s legacy. With works from the nationally acclaimed Big River to the world premieres of Meet John Doe, The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Liberty Smith, Necessary Sacrifices and The Widow Lincoln, Ford’s Theatre is making its mark on the American theatre landscape.
With the opening of the Center for Education and Leadership, Ford’s Theatre has become a major center for learning, where people of all ages can examine Lincoln’s multi-faceted legacy through exhibits, workshops, seminars and speakers as well as community outreach programs.
The Ford’s Theatre experience will inspire audiences from around the world to become compassionate leaders in their own communities, empowering them to live out Lincoln’s principles in their own lives.