Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Postcards From Washington, D.C. - Lincoln Day (Part 1)

Because there are so many areas in Washington D.C. designated to memorializing Abraham Lincoln in one way or another, we decided to devote one entire day to visiting Lincoln related places.

First, we headed for our scheduled 10:00 AM tour of President Lincoln's Cottage.  I had previously purchased our docent-led tour tickets online ($15.00 per person) as advised by the information on the website for the cottage.  As it turns out, we were the only folks there for the tour that day and had the docent and her insights all to ourselves.  Kinda nice.

Lincoln's Cottage
Located on the property of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, on a picturesque hilltop in Northwest Washington, D.C., the Cottage is where Lincoln and his family lived for about a quarter of his presidency. They were there primarily in the warmer months, from June to November of 1862, 1863, and 1864.

What makes the Cottage so historic is that Lincoln developed his Emancipation Proclamation and led the Union through the Civil War while in residence there.  Historians theorize that since it was a bit quieter there, and away from the city hubbub, he had more chance there to think clearly and concisely express those thoughts onto paper.

Statue and hubby outside Lincoln's Cottage
Our multi-media enhanced guided tour through the various rooms of the Cottage revealed untold stories and insights on Lincoln's presidency, private life, and his most influential ideas.

A small gallery in the nearby Visitors' Center contained personal items of the immediate Lincoln family.  I enjoyed seeing an actual pair of tapestry type bedroom slippers there that Abe wore sometimes in the Cottage, and often while greeting guests.  We learned that people from town would come to his door, to voice their thoughts on current issues or gripe about their discontents.  (Keep in mind, this was in an era before Secret Service.)  These guests would wait their turn and then be brought up into Abe's living chambers to have their few moments with him, in his slippers.

What struck me numerous times throughout our Lincoln Day was how strongly Abraham Lincoln was disliked during his presidency, yet now he is thought of as one of our nation's most favorite presidents.

In the early afternoon, we made our way into the city proper to see the Ford Theatre.  We saved ourselves a long wait in line, because we had ordered our scheduled entrance tickets in advance.  (Admission is free; advance tickets have a $2.50 per person convenience fee.)

A visit to Ford's Theatre traces the story of Abraham Lincoln's presidency, assassination, and legacy.  Visiting this historic building deepened our appreciation and understanding of America's 16th president.

Ford's Theatre exterior
Visitors are first directed to explore the museum located under the theater.  There we perused loads of  information and displays about Lincoln's presidency, from his inauguration to his arrival at Ford's Theatre the night of April 14, 1865.

In the Ford's Theatre museum
I was particularly captivated by the heavy glass display box that housed the assassination weapon used by John Wilkes Booth.

Next we went upstairs into the theatre itself.  Of course, my first instinct was to look toward the seating box where Abraham Lincoln was shot on that fateful night, and there it was, decorated just as it was the night he came to sit in that box.  

It's not a huge theatre.  Even so, being there felt a bit surreal to me, knowing Lincoln had been there and was shot there.  Here are some other views in the theatre.

The stage is ready for the evening performance.

Looking toward the back

Ornamentation on the theater seats
We were directed to take our seats, and then we listened to a fairly long presentation by a costumed docent who related the key facts of the assassination.

Next:  "Driving Miss Daisy" in the Ford's Theatre
           The Peterson House

1 comment:

  1. Very cool highlights of Washington DC. On our way to the southwest last fall, we visited the Lincoln home, museum and presidential library in Springfield, IL, and also his grave. It was a very interesting look into his life.