Petersen House

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516 10th St NW, Washington, DC, USA

Petersen House Washington Reviews

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The House Where Lincoln Died Aug 14, 2015
This building, across the street from Ford’s Theatre, is called “The House Where Lincoln Died” and also known as the Petersen House. After Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theatre, a young physician named Charles Augustus Leale, was among the first to attend to the President. As the President lay unconscious, Leale removed a blood clot, releasing the pressure and allowing Lincoln breathe on his own. Leale exclaimed, “His wound is mortal; it is impossible for him to recover,” and ordered the President be moved across the street to to the home of William and Anna Petersen. The President never regained consciousness. On the morning of April 15, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln died in the Petersen house of the gunshot wound be received at the hand of the assassin John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theatre the previous evening.

A ticket across the street at Ford’s Theatre is required to enter, but it’s free, and has been maintained by the U.S. National Park Service since 1933. There are several rooms to see on the second floor of the home: Front Parlor (where Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the President, spent her time between visiting the Lincoln’s bedside and receiving close friends with their son Robert Lincoln, Back Parlor ( where Secretary of War, Edward M. Stanton, conducted his investigation of the assassination and held cabinet meetings, Back Bedroom (where Lincoln died, and the bed where Lincoln was laid diagonally with pillows supporting his head and shoulders). Unfortunately, none of the furnishings in the house are original, but all are circa 1865 period pieces accurate to the extent provided by detailed sketches of of eyewitnesses at the time. Apparently near 100 people passed through the home that evening to pay their last respects to the President as he lay dying of his wound.

There is a lot more to see than just the 2nd floor of the Petersen House though, and from the 2nd floor of this house, access can be gained to an adjacent building, which houses the Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership, maintained by Ford’s Theatre Society. The 4th floor of this building is a museum all about how Lincoln was cared for after he was shot by John Wilkes Booth, the hunt for the assassins, uncovering the plot, and the fatal wounding of Booth by Sergeant Boston Corbett. The subsequent trial of the conspirators, their ultimate judgement and fate is covered too. There is more on Lincoln's life and legacy on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Near the exit in the lobby of is the not to be missed "Tower of Books” inside a spiral staircase, as part of the lobby of the Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership, with replicas of 6,800 of the over 15,000 (and counting) books written about Lincoln, though there are only 205 unique titles since they repeat throughout the tower. Among Americans, no other man has been written about more than Lincoln.
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