Things to Do

Things to Do in DC for the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Assassination

Tours, tributes, and vigils will be held across Washington.

Salute horses and riders as they retrace Honest Abe's last ride on horseback. Photo courtesy President Lincoln’s Cottage.

April 14 marks the 150th anniversary of the night John Wilkes Booth walked into Abraham Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theatre and shot the President in the back of the head. After being carried across the street, he died in the Petersen House the next morning. To commemorate the anniversary, President Barack Obama will declare a Day of Remembrance on April 15. Want to pay homage to Honest Abe? Check out what’s going on around Washington next week.

Ford’s Theatre
514 10th St., NW

Ford’s Theatre is hosting the broadest selection of anniversary events. On April 14 at 9 PM, the theater will put on a tribute called, “Now He Belongs to the Ages: A Lincoln Commemoration.” The program includes Civil War-era music, parts of Lincoln’s favorite plays and operas, and readings of Lincoln stories and speeches. Tickets are sold out, but the event will be live-streamed on the Ford’s Theatre website and at the National Portrait Gallery.

That same night, at 10:15 PM, Ford’s will be invaded by more than 150 Civil War historians, who will recreate the original vigil held for Lincoln. And the tributes don’t end there. Good news for insomniacs: You can do a walk-through of the theater and the Petersen House between 12:30 AM and 5:30 AM.

On both April 14 and 15, you can tour the space with Brian Anderson, whose new book, Images of America: Ford’s Theatre uses photography to describe the theater’s indelible position in American history. $52, tours available at 8 AM and 5 PM.

The special programming is capped by a wreath-laying ceremony on April 15 at 7:22 AM–the exact time Lincoln stopped breathing. Church bells will sound across Washington, just as they did in 1865.

The Surratt House Museum
9118 Brandywine Rd., Clinton

The Surratt House Museum is running three tours in April that trace Booth’s escape through Maryland and Virginia. The Surratt House was originally a tavern where a kidnapping of Lincoln was planned and where Booth and an accomplice stopped hours after Booth pulled the trigger at Ford’s Theatre. The 12-hour bus tour costs $85 and is led by Booth experts. April 11, 18, and 25.

The Dr. Mudd House Museum
3725 Dr Samuel Mudd Rd., Waldorf

The Dr. Mudd House, where Booth hitched his broken leg on April 15, 1865, now operates as a museum and is commemorating the anniversary of the killing by presenting a play about Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who tended to Booth on that night. There will be Civil War re-enactors to help set the scene around the house, as well as walking tours of the adjacent swamp that Booth and his accomplice escaped through on their way to Virginia. $5 per car for event admission. $8 for tours. April 18, 10 AM to 7 PM; April 19, 11 AM to 7 PM.

DC by Foot

DC by Foot will do special runs of its Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour. The free, two-hour walking tour, which starts in Lafayette Square and ends at Ford’s Theatre, includes stops at a dozen historical sites. April 14, 15, and 16 at 7 PM.

President Lincoln’s Cottage
140 Rock Creek Church Rd., NW

On April 13, the Lincoln Cottage is retracing Honest Abe’s last ride on horseback from the White House to the Soldier’s Home, which is now known as the Armed Forces Retirement Home. The Cottage invites viewers to salute the ride from sidewalks along the route, followed by a short ceremony at the Cottage. The ride begins on 15th Street Northwest at noon and ends at 3:30 PM at the Cottage. For additional programming, which includes a forum and the draping of the Cottage in black cambric, visit their website.

Decatur House
748 Jackson Pl., NW

Open through April 14, the exhibit, “Life in the Lincoln White House,” offers a peek inside the President’s office. The recreation is based on a painting by Francis Bicknell Carpenter and features original furnishings and decorations. This Saturday between 1 and 3 PM, it features an actor portraying the President himself; Lincoln was famously accessible to ordinary citizens who wanted to air grievances in person. Feel free to air your own.