Restoration of Ford's Theatre, Washington D.C

By George J. Olszewski | Go to book overview

HISTORICAL DATA

PART I -- Ford's Theatre Building, 1833-1862

THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF WASHINGTON

The site on which the Old Ford's Theatre Building now stands was originally occupied by the First Baptist Church of Washington constructed in 1833.1 The edifice also became known as the Tenth Street Baptist Church to distinguish it from later-formed congregations.2 When the Fourth Baptist Congregation was formed on Thirteenth Street, Northwest, in 1859, it was joined by that of the First Baptist Church which gave its name to the united groups.3 The structure on Tenth Street, Northwest, was thereafter abandoned as a house of divine worship.4 However, since there was a chancel or raised platform at the east end of the church to accommodate the pulpit and choir, it was not difficult to rearrange the setting for musical concerts that were given from time to time in the church building.5 Undoubtedly, it was this feature of the structure that attracted the attention of John T. Ford, a theatre entrepreneur of Baltimore, Maryland, when he arrived in Washington in the fall of 1861, seeking a location for theatrical purposes.6

It was about this time that the Board of Trustees of the First Baptist Church decided to divest itself of the land and building, owing to the financial burden of maintaining the structure since it was no

____________________
1
Minutes of the Board of Trustees, First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C., 1833- 1859, passim. Cited hereafter as Board Minutes. Personal interviews, Dr. Edward H. Pruden, Pastor, First Baptist Church; Dr. M. Chandler Stith, Executive Secretary, District of Columbia Baptist Convention; and Mrs. Dorothy Winchcole, Historian, First Church, to Olszewski, Washington, October 12-13, 1960, and March 21, 1962. Capital Baptist, V, No. 4 ( October 29, 1959), 5. See also Dorothy Clark Winchcole, The First Baptists in Washington, D.C., 1802- 1952 ( Washington, 1952), esp. pp. 9-11, 43. National Intelligencer ( D.C.), 1833- 1859, passim.
2
Stith, op. cit.
3
Ibid., and Capital Baptist, op. cit.
4
Stith, op. cit. See Figure 2, drawing by an unknown artist. Original in L.M.C.
5
See Figure 4. Original playbill in Rare Book Division, Library of Congress (L.C.). National Intelligencer, November 18, 1861.
6
John Ford Sollers, Excerpts from the Theatrical Career of John T. Ford, 1959. Chap. III, p. 3. Sollers is the grandnephew of Harry Clay Ford and is writing this biography for his doctoral dissertation. He has presented copies of Chap. III and IV of his work to the Lincoln Museum Collection (L.M.C.). Copy in Ford Theatre Collection (F.T.C.) which deals solely with the theatre and its history. NOTE: John T. Ford (b. April 16, 1829), son of Elias Ford of Baltimore, Md., was the eldest of the three brothers who operated Ford's Theatre, Washington. James Reed Ford (b. March 14, 1840) was business manager and Harry Clay Ford (b. January 13, 1844), treasurer. Two sons of the latter, George D. Ford of La Canada, Calif., and Frank Ford of New York City are still living and have provided much valuable information on Ford's Theatre. Frank Ford recently presented his grandfather's Bible and other mementoes to the L.M.C. John T. Ford, who often signed his name "Jno.", will hereafter be referred to as "Ford" to distinguish him from other members of the family mentioned in the report. Ford was usually known around the theatre as "Mr. Ford"; H. Clay Ford was known as "Harry"; and James Reed as "Dick." George D. Ford to Olszewski, Lambs Club, New York City, April 8, 1962. See Figure 3. Original daguerrotype in L.M.C.

-5-

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Restoration of Ford's Theatre, Washington D.C
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • List of Illustrations xv
  • List of Historic American Buildings Survey Drawings xvii
  • Administrative Data 1
  • Historical Data 3
  • Part I -- Ford's Theatre Building, 1833-1862 5
  • Part II -- Ford's Theatre 1867-65 13
  • Part III -- April 14, 1865 and Its Aftermath 53
  • Architectural Data 67
  • Furnishings and Exhibition Data 101
  • Appendix A--Lincoln at Ford's Theatre 105
  • Appendix B--List of Productions at Ford's Theatre 107
  • Appendix C 123
  • Bibliography 125
  • Index 130
  • Mission 66 137
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