Ford’s Theater. Arina Maier. Founded? . This building was first founded in 1833 as the First Baptist Church in Washington. In 1861, the congregation leased it to John T. Ford. . Building and Rebuilding.
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John T. Ford converted the church into a music hall called, “Ford’s Athenaeum.” In 1862, a fire destroyed the building. It was reconstructed the following year as “Ford’s New Theater.” The first performance in the new venue took place on August 27, 1863. Misfortune struck again when all three floors collapsed killing 22 workers and injuring 68. From then until 1931, the building was used as a government warehouse. The Federal Government bought the building from Ford in 1866. During 1866 -1887 the building served as the home of the War Department records on the first floor, The National Library of Medicine on the second floor, and the Army Medical Museum on the third.
In February 1968, the restored building reopened its doors to the public . Since then it has been both an active theater and a historical sight. The Lincoln Museum, built in 1932, located in the basement-level, contains objects associated with Lincoln’s early years, public career, and the presidential years. The collection also includes the clothes he wore the night he was assassinated, the pistol that ended his life, and the flag that draped his coffin.