Most American students well-versed in history know the story of President Lincoln’s assassination in the Ford Theater. What they might not know is how the building has barely survived. About 30 years after the fatal night (April 14, 1865), the government bought the building for offices; excavation in the basement caused a wall to collapse. From that point, the building was called “cursed,” which didn’t help in efforts to restore the historic structure. Speed forward in a time machine to May 2007, well after the theater was to original use. It was announced that the Ford would be renovated in time for Lincoln’s bicentennial this year. This too, was long before Lincoln admirer President Obama was a major contender in the elections. Typical of so many renovations, there was some stalling on bids and contracts, leading officials to worry that work wouldn’t be done in time for festivities. Thankfully, paperwork and whatnot were settled quickly. The biggest change in a new entrance adjacent to the old. The new spae contains a lobby, gift shop, even a elevator to parking and the upper theater floors.
The $50 million project received monies from private, corporate and public sources – well before the current economic crisis. Now all the spiffing up is done. Bicentennial kicks off Feb. 8, at the Ford, of course.