The historic Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C., which is in the process of being renovated, is now going to be delayed several months because the bidding process for the job was unsuccessful. The National Park Service closed the theater in early June for an 18-month renovation job. The theater has since been reopened because bids placed to do the job did not meet the criteria for it. The theater is set for an $8.5 million renovation to install its first elevator, new restrooms, and renovations to the heating, air conditioning, light, and sound systems. No restorations have been done to the 144-year-old building since the 1960’s.

Aside from being a local theater, the theater is a historic landmark and tourist attraction. About 1 million people come to see the theater where John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, mortally wounding him. The theater tried to be reopened, but arson threats kept him from doing so. The government bought the theater in 1866, and it became an office building, ware house, and museum. Then in 1954, President Eisenhower signed a Congressional act to restore the theater. Ten years later, it was reconstructed, and it reopened as a theater in 1968 with the play “John Brown’s Body.”

In the basement, there is now a Lincoln Museum. The theater is also proud of its catering to audiences with special needs. They participate in education and community outreach programs from interactive workshops for inter-city kids, American Sign Language or audio description for the hearing impaired, and a subsidized ticket program. This program, created in 1977, allows economically disadvantaged people to attend their first theatrical performance. Also, about 25,000 students attend productions on discounted tickets. This combined with its history makes the renovation of Ford’s Theater worth the hassle.

For related articles visit http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07191/800431-37.stm and http://www.fordstheatre.org/home.asp.

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