Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, is shown here in its opening year, 1861, and as it appears now after its recent renovation.
The building, on 10th Street between E and F streets NW, was occupied by the First Baptist Church from 1834 to 1859, according to Charles Suddarth Kelly's book, "Washington, D.C., Then and Now." John T. Ford acquired the structure for use as a theater in 1861. The owner's son, Harry C. Ford, lived above the Star Saloon, which was on the ground floor of the three-story row house seen in both photographs to the right of the theater. The younger Ford was manager of stage shows until the theater closed after Lincoln's assassination.
In 1866 the building reopened, housing War Department offices, and continued as a government office and warehouse building for nearly a century. Like many other downtown roadways, the street shown in the old photograph was paved during the 1870s under Alexander (Boss) Shepherd's public works program. Shepherd's projects indebted local government for years, but provided for Washington's original matrix of paved streets.
The theater, under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service since 1933, was approved for restoration in 1964 and in 1968 was reopened as a museum and theater. The interior restoration was aided by old photographs taken by Civil War photographer Matthew Brady..
Today the theater lobby and ticket office are located through the arched door to the left of the original building. The large building to the extreme left of the theater was constructed in the 1960s and houses a parking garage and retail stores. To the right of the former Star Saloon is the former headquarters of the Potomac Electric Power Company. And the large, modern structure visible on the next block, to the right, is the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building.