The Petersen House

It was a good thing, in a way, that the Fords Theater Museum was closed due to a show, or else, I would never have thought about crossing the street and walking through the Petersen house—the house where Abraham Lincoln died.  The whole tour of the house takes about five minutes if you just walk through each room quickly. For people like me, it took a bit longer, as I love to take photos and get a feel for the place where history took place. I love Abraham Lincoln and this was a special place to be in. So I savored every moment and thought I had at the time.

This house is located at 516 10th Street in Washington, DC., and was the home of William and Anna Petersen. William was a German tailor and built this rowhouse in 1849. It is directly across the street from Fords Theater. On April 14, 1965, Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, were enjoying a performance of Our American Cousin, when John Wilkes Booth, an actor, entered the President's box and shot him in the back of his head.  Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris were in the same box with the Lincolns, and Rathbone was stabbed repeatedly before John Wilkes Booth leapt on stage, and screamed "Sic Semper Tyrannus" to the audience, before escaping. 

Investigations were started immediately and Lincoln was moved into William Petersen's house. His home was not his for a period of time as eighty or so people came in and out of it as the president lay dying. Physicians worked feverishly throughout the night removing blood clots that had formed over the wound, and worked on relieving pressure. After much laboring, there was nothing more that could be done for the President. Abraham Lincoln died at 7:22am on April 15, 1865 at the age of fifty six. 

This is the parlor, right at the front of the house, where, between visits to her husband's bedside, Mary Todd Lincoln waited with her son, Robert. 

The Secretary of War, Staunton held cabinet meetings and interviewed witnesses.

This is similar to the bed on which Lincoln died. He was laid in this bed diagonally as he was too tall to fit in it properly.

The Museum held several artifacts and mementos of Lincoln's death and burial.

The Tower of Books—contained all the books ever written about Lincoln.


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