After the shooting at Ford’s Theatre, the scene on Tenth Street was a picture of agitated solemnity. Many of those who had been present in the theater were now anxiously waiting just outside its doors for word regarding the President’s condition. As the news was passed down the Washington streets, others migrated towards the scene, hoping to get the latest information for themselves. Many, if not all, of those who traveled to the theater that night hoped that the news being passed around was false. Perhaps the President was fine and the rumors of his being shot were untrue. As the newcomers arrived however, and they started hearing accounts from witnesses, their hopes would have inevitably changed. Faced with the realization that the President had, indeed, been shot, their hearts would then pray that their leader was not gravely injured by an assassin’s bullet.
The sight of the unresponsive President being carried, borne by loving hands, out of the theater and into the street would have dashed the hopes and prayers of those present. The somber truth of President’s condition would have been obvious to everyone, as drops of his blood spilled onto the dirt street.
One of the men viewing this tragic scene was Henry Safford, a boarder who lived across the street from Ford’s Theatre at the boardinghouse of William and Anna Petersen. Noticing that those carrying the President were unsure where to take him, Safford called out, “Bring him in here.” With those four words, the Petersen House became an integral part of history and would forever be known as “The House Where Lincoln Died”.
This picture, previously unpublished, shows the Petersen House between the years of 1920 and 1922. At that point the building was owned by the government with Lincoln collector Osborn Oldroyd as its tenant and caretaker. Oldroyd operated his Lincoln museum out of the Petersen House. At the time this picture was taken, it cost 27¢ (with 3¢ tax) to visit the museum.
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