Petersen House

Petersen House

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The Petersen House is a 19th-century federal style
Federal architecture
Federal-style architecture is the name for the classicizing architecture built in the United States between c. 1780 and 1830, and particularly from 1785 to 1815. This style shares its name with its era, the Federal Period. The name Federal style is also used in association with furniture design...

 rowhouse located at 516 10th Street NW in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 On April 15, 1865, United States President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 died there after being shot
Abraham Lincoln assassination
The assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln took place on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee, and his battered Army of...

 the previous evening at Ford's Theater, which was located across the street. The house was built in 1849 by William A. Petersen, a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

A tailor is a person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, especially suits and men's clothing.Although the term dates to the thirteenth century, tailor took on its modern sense in the late eighteenth century, and now refers to makers of men's and women's suits, coats, trousers,...


Lincoln assassination

On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd
Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Ann Lincoln was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865.-Life before the White House:...

 were attending a performance of Our American Cousin
Our American Cousin
Our American Cousin is an 1858 play in three acts by English playwright Tom Taylor. The play is a farce whose plot is based on the introduction of an awkward, boorish but honest American, Asa Trenchard, to his aristocratic English relatives when he goes to England to claim the family estate...

when John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth was an American stage actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. Booth was a member of the prominent 19th century Booth theatrical family from Maryland and, by the 1860s, was a well-known actor...

, an actor and Southern sympathizer, entered the box and shot the President in the back of the head. Henry Rathbone
Henry Rathbone
Henry Reed Rathbone was a United States military officer and diplomat who was present at the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Rathbone was sitting with his fiancée, Clara Harris, next to the President and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, when John Wilkes Booth entered the president's box at...

 and Clara Harris
Clara Harris
Clara Harris was an American socialite.-Biography:Clara Harris was the daughter of U.S. Senator Ira Harris of New York....

 were also in the box with the Lincolns, and Rathbone suffered stab wounds. Attendants including Charles Leale
Charles Leale
Dr. Charles Augustus Leale M.D. was a surgeon in the Union Army during the American Civil War.He was the first doctor to be admitted into the presidential box at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865 after John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head with a Philadelphia...

 and Charles Sabin Taft
Charles Sabin Taft
Charles Sabin Taft, M.D. was a bystander physician who was pressed into service during the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.-Lincoln's assassination:...

 examined Lincoln in the box before having him carried across the street to the Petersen House, where boarder Henry Safford directed them inside.

Almarin Cooley Richards, superintendent of the Washington Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
The Metropolitan Police Department, also known as the DC Police, DCPD, MPD, and MPDC is the municipal police force in Washington, D.C...

, was attending the performance and immediately began investigations. From the back parlor of the house, Richards interviewed witnesses and ordered the arrest of Booth.

Physicians continually removed blood clots which formed over the wound and poured out the excess brain fluid and brain matter from where the bullet had entered Lincoln's head in order to relieve pressure on the brain. However, the external and internal hemorrhaging continued throughout the night. Among the attending physicians was Anderson Ruffin Abbott
Anderson Ruffin Abbott
Anderson Ruffin Abbott, M.D. was the first Black Canadian to be a licensed physician. His career included participation in the American Civil War and attending the death bed of Abraham Lincoln.-Early life:...

, the first black Canadian
Black Canadian
'Black Canadians is a designation used for people of Black African descent, who are citizens or permanent residents of Canada. The term specifically refers to Canadians with Sub-Saharan African ancestry. The majority of Black Canadians are of Caribbean origin...

 granted a medical license.

During the night and early morning, military guards patrolled outside to prevent onlookers from coming inside the house. Lincoln's Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

 members, Generals, and various members of Congress were allowed to see the President.

Lincoln died in the house on April 15, 1865, at 7:22 a.m., age 56. Individuals in the room when he died included Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner was an American politician and senator from Massachusetts. An academic lawyer and a powerful orator, Sumner was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction,...

, generals Henry Wager Halleck
Henry Wager Halleck
Henry Wager Halleck was a United States Army officer, scholar, and lawyer. A noted expert in military studies, he was known by a nickname that became derogatory, "Old Brains." He was an important participant in the admission of California as a state and became a successful lawyer and land developer...

, Richard James Oglesby
Richard James Oglesby
Richard James Oglesby was an Illinois statesman and U.S. Army officer. He served in the Mexican-American War and was a major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He also served Illinois in the legislature. Near the end of the civil war, he was elected the 14th Governor of...

 and Montgomery C. Meigs
Montgomery C. Meigs
Montgomery Cunningham Meigs was a career United States Army officer, civil engineer, construction engineer for a number of facilities in Washington, D.C., and Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army during and after the American Civil War....

, and Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 Edwin Stanton.


In 1896, the government bought the house for $30,000. Since 1933, the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 has maintained it as a historical museum, recreating the scene at the time of Lincoln's death. The bed that Lincoln occupied and other items from the bedroom had been bought by Chicago collector, Charles F. Gunther
Charles F. Gunther
Charles Frederick Gunther was a German-American confectioner and collector. He purchased many of the items now owned by the Chicago History Museum.-Early years:...

, and are now owned by and on display at the Chicago History Museum. However, replicas have taken their places. The bloodstained pillow and pillowcases are the ones used by Lincoln.

Today, the Petersen House is administered by the National Park Service as part of the Ford's Theatre National Historic Site. Usually the house is open to visitors daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free, but requires a time ticket.