Theatre entrepreneur John T. Ford leased Washington’s First Baptist Church
in 1861 and converted it into a music hall. His theater grew in
popularity but was destroyed by fire. But Ford immediately began
reconstruction and opened Ford’s "New Theatre" in August 1863. On the
evening of April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln, his wife and two guests
attended “Our American Cousin”. That night, John Wilkes Booth fired
the shot that plunged the nation into mourning and a theatre into
darkness. John Ford tried to re-open the Theatre but threats of arson
prevented it. The government bought the Theatre in 1866 and over the
next 90 years it was an office building, warehouse and museum.
Today, Ford's Theatre is again a live, working theatre. As a national
historic and cultural site, it re-opened its doors in 1968--after having
been closed for 103 years. In the basement is an excellent museum
of Lincoln memorabilia.