There are many fun and interesting things to do in Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia. The region is truly a gold mine of things to experience. This blog offers information, ideas of things to see and do, history, fun facts and observations through photos. You also might find some adventures from the eyes of a resident and frequent tourist. If you can't find the information you are looking for, please try the blog's search feature for other posts. Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
12 interesting facts about Petersen House
On the night of April 14, 1965 President Abraham Lincoln
was fatally wounded by John Wilkes Booth during a showing of “Our American
Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre. After the
shots were fired, President Lincoln was carried into a home across the street.
When tending to the president’s injuries, doctors knew he wouldn’t be able to
make the trip back to the White House.
The home President Lincoln was carried into was owned by a
family named Petersen. Located at 516 10th Street, today that home is
known as the “Petersen House” and is a historic property.
Sign on the fence in front of Petersen House
The townhouse is
maintained and operated by the National Park Service (NPS) and visitors are
able to visit the home as a part of their Ford’s Theatre Tour.
facts about Petersen House
1. The townhouse at 516 10th Street was built by
William and Anna Petersen in 1849. Both William and Anna came to the United
States from Germany. Mr. Petersen was a tailor and the couple had 10 children
(five survived to adulthood).
2. The house is made of red brick. It has three stories, along
with a basement. During the Civil War there was a high demand for rooms in
Washington D.C. with many people traveling into the city. The Petersens
routinely rentedrooms in their home to boarders.
President Lincoln was carried across the street, he was placed in a bedroom rented by
William T. Clark. Clark was a Union solider who was not home at the time. The original bed where Lincoln was rested is not currently in Petersen House, but this plaque shows a photo of the original, along with some other information (click on photo to enlarge to see detail).
4. More than 90 people came through the Petersens’ doors that
fateful evening to pay last respects to President Lincoln as doctors were
tending to him. During this time the Petersens and some of their boarders
stayed in the basement. Government officials conducted inquiries during this time.
5. Mary Lincoln passed those terrible hours waiting in the Petersens’ parlor, overcome
with grief. Son Robert was at her side.
6. After the president’s death, the home became a popular
7. Mr. and Mrs. Petersen lived in their home until they both
passed away in 1871.
8. In 1878 a man named Louis Schade purchased the Petersen
House. He paid $4,500 and used the townhouse as both living and work space.
Schade was the owner of The Washington Sentinel and ran the paper from his new home.
many years, Schade tired of the stream of visitors to the house and decided to
move. The Petersen home was purchased by
the U.S. government in 1896 for $30,000.
Visitors wait for their tour of Petersen House
10. The house
was leased to the Memorial Association of D.C. in 1896. Osborn Oldroyd,
a Lincoln enthusiast since the 1860 election, was a Civil War veteran. He lived
in the home, bringing his extensive Lincoln collection to the Petersen House to put on
display. Eventually, this collection would be purchased by the U.S. Government
and become a part of the Ford’s Theatre collection.
11. Today the Petersen House is furnished as it would have been
in 1865. None of the furniture inside of the home is original. After the
Petersens died, their furniture was sold at auction.
12. The bed Lincoln was lying on when he died was
bought for $80 by William H. Boyd. Boyd’s son sold
the bed to a wealthy man in Chicago named Charles F. Gunther. Today the bed is
currently owned by the Chicago Historical Society.
The Petersen House is open to visitors from 9:30 a.m. to
5:30 p.m. To see the Petersen House, it is part of the Ford’s Theatre Tour. I
have a detailed post on the history of Ford’s Theatre and how to get tickets in
this post if you're looking for more information and/or how to visit.