President Lincoln's Cottage and Ford's Theatre Review - Enhancing the Movie Lincoln

“Lincoln”, the recently released movie written and directed by Steven Spielberg featuring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Jackie Earle Haley, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was outstanding, powerful and compelling. I was able to share this movie which explores the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life with relatives who were visiting for the holidays. We found the film's exploration of the events that lead to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation fascinating and moving.  For me the movie also brought back a recent experience I had on a visit to Washington, DC when my husband was attending a meeting of the National Academy of Engineering. It became my "Lincoln Day", and I want to share these events with Splash readers who may be planning a visit to Washington, D.C.


I was part of a group of individuals that accompanied the meeting participants.  A bus was arranged to take our group to the President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldier’s Home.  None of us knew about the cottage which is "A National Trust Historical Site" before this visit but were amazed at what we saw.  The guides were excellent as were the short films and dramatically told stories of incidents that took place during the time when Lincoln was at the cottage. The film had scenes in it from the cottage.


Admission to the Cottage is by guided tour only; tickets are required. 
-Advance ticket purchase is the only way to guarantee your spot on a tour. On-site ticket purchase is subject to availability. 
-The tour lasts approximately 1 hour. Account for additional time to explore the many other site offerings. 
-Due to battlefield imagery and tour length (approximately 1 hour), the tour is suitable for children 6 and older, accompanied by an adult. 
-Tours are offered for individuals and groups. Groups of 10 or more must make reservations at least 3 weeks in advance. 
-All visits begin in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center. Please check-in 15 minutes before your scheduled tour time. 
-Hearing enhancement devices are available upon request.


And while there, you can’t help but see the wonderful statue of “Bob”, Abraham Lincoln’s horse. I just noticed my admission ticket which says, “President Lincoln’s Cottage was the beloved home of Abraham Lincoln and his family during his presidency.  Our mission is to engage the public in an exploration of Abraham Lincoln’s leadership and ideas, and preserve President Lincoln’s Cottage to nurture reflection and discourse on liberty, justice and equality.”

President Lincoln’s Cottage has an original, signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation on display now through February 28, 2013.  In addition, “Starting January 3, 2013 the Chicago History Museum will celebrate 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by showcasing a handwritten order issued by President Abraham Lincoln On January 1, 1863, directing the Secretary of State to affix the United States seal to the Emancipation Proclamation. This order set in motion the freedom of three million slaves in rebellious states. Lincoln’s order will be on display as part of the ongoing Unexpected Chicago series through March 4, 2013 and may never be exhibited again.  (


The order came from the office of Secretary of State William H. Seward, addressed to the states in rebellion and reads: “I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of State to affix the seal of the United States to MY PROCLIMATION dated this day and signed by me and for so doing this shall be his warrant.” 


The morning tour was inspiring and informative and ended at noon.  Luckily, I was with two friends who were still intrigued with “all things Lincoln” and wanted to make our time in Washington, D.C. count.  We realized that we were a short distance from Ford’s Theatre, a place I always wanted to visit.   Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site Washington, D.C. which is run by the National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior is free, but tickets for specific times are required.  We happened to walk up as tickets became available for a visit in five minutes.  The museum is on the lower levels of the theatre and extends across the street to the Peterson House where Lincoln was taken after he was shot and where he died.


The displays are very “user friendly”.  They are very interesting to look at and engage in and very informative.  At a given time there was an announcement for a presentation on stage and there was the box where Lincoln and his family sat.  The ranger went through the entire series of events that surrounded that fateful event.


We were fortunate in having the better part of two hours to explore.  At the Peterson House, there was a model of the bed where Lincoln was brought and where he died.  Following along there were several displays of the train trip that brought Lincoln’s body through many of the cities in the eastern part of the country and eventually ended in Springfield, Illinois.


John Wilkes Booth’s flight is shown and his capture demonstrated in a dramatic enactment with recorded voices.  There are also several gift shops.  You will be very pleased if you take time to visit this museum during a stay in Washington, D. C.


For more information:


Fords’ Theatre National Historic Site

511 10th Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20004


Ford’s Theatre Society


Photos:  B. Keer



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