Ford's Theatre is the Nation's historic site that memorializes one of the saddest moments in the history of our country, the assassination of President Lincoln. Following the trial of the Lincoln conspirators and the purchase and remodeling of the building by the Federal Government in 1865, its history was so shrouded in unreality that it was difficult to separate fact from fiction. Ever since 1932, when the Lincoln Museum was established in the building under the administration of the National Park Service, visitors have expressed concern over the fact that this historic shrine, so closely associated with the death of Lincoln, has not been restored to its original condition as a memorial. It was with this objective in mind that the Congress provided funds to carry out historical and architectural research on the building with a view towards its eventual restoration to its original appearance as of the night of April 14, 1865.
Preliminary investigations began in 1955, when, under the provisions of Public Law 372, 83d Congress, the National Capital Region prepared a preliminary engineering study. Additional funds were appropriated by Congress under the provisions of Public Law 86-455, 86th Congress, to carry out "preliminary architectural and historical research, the preparation of construction drawings and for exhibit planning."
The present Historic Structures Report, Restoration of Ford's Theatre, represents the sum total of our investigations into every known public and private documentary source of evidence on the subject. The facts presented here are the best available and would provide for the full restoration of the theatre. If funds are provided promptly, the restoration of Ford's Theatre can be completed by the 100th anniversary of the tragedy occurring therein, as a living memorial to the Great Emancipator.
New interpretive exhibits of contemporary design are planned for the Lincoln Museum to be installed in the restored structure. Here the Lincoln Story will continue to be depicted as in the past to provide renewed inspiration to the thousands of American and foreign visitors who yearly visit the hallowed shrines of America's heritage in our Nation's Capital.
This report is the result of the effective collaboration of the National Capital Region's historical and architectural staffs. William M. Haussmann, Chief, National Capital Office, Design and Construction, coordinated the entire project. William A. Dennin, Supervisory Architect, contributed the architectural data and, with Laima J. Kalnins, prepared the architectural drawings. Randle B. Truett, Regional Historian, supervised the preparation of the historical material. The overall report was researched, written, indexed, and prepared for publication by Dr. G. J. Olszewski.
CONRAD L. WIRTH, Director.
APRIL 14, 1963.