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Images of America: Ford’s Theatre

By Brian Anderson, Arcadia Publishing 2014, $21.99

Ford’s Theatre is universally remembered as the site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865. But, as can be seen in Brian Anderson’s new book, there is a lot more to this historical edifice, harking back 32 years before that tragic moment and extending beyond it into the future. Brief though it is, Ford’s Theatre provides the whole story, from its foundation in 1833 as the First Baptist Church of Washington to the building’s sale, by church leaders relocating to 13th Street, to Baltimore theatrical producer John T. Ford and the establishment’s varied fortunes thereafter.

A generous helping of illustrations and photographs traces the building’s post-Civil War progress as an office  and warehouse to its restoration as a museum in 1932, leading to the decision to fully resurrect it as something more vital in 1968: a museum and education center that also serves, as it had more than a century before, as a fully active theater. For those with an interest in historic American architecture, whether blasé local or visiting tourist, Ford’s Theatre should serve as a useful, comprehensive guide to one of the oldest— and some still insist, haunted—structures in the nation’s capital.


Originally published in the November 2014 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.