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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 October 2007, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
'Lincoln Campus' plan for theatre
By Vincent Dowd
BBC News, Washington DC

Abraham Lincoln (undated file photo)
Lincoln is fondly remembered by many Americans
Washington DC's Ford's Theatre, where US President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated 142 years ago, is to undergo a multi-million dollar refit.

The renovation will turn it into a monument to the life of the 16th president rather than just his death.

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 - becoming the first of four US presidents to suffer that fate.

It is the bicentenary of his birth in February 2009 which has prompted the building's renovation.

The location was of course a theatre and no one could really decide what to do with it afterwards.

Uncomfortable theatre

The government took control of it and of a building opposite, where Lincoln actually died.

Congress decreed the building should never again be a place of entertainment. For more than a century it was a library and offices.

Only in the 1960s was it finally agreed it could reopen as a museum to Lincoln - and as a working theatre.

The reconstructed auditorium was famously uncomfortable and the museum elements were underwhelming.

But plans have now been announced for many millions of dollars to be spent on a so-called Lincoln Campus around the theatre building.

'Great emancipator'

The site's million or so visitors a year will learn more about what Lincoln did in his life.

Abe Lincoln remains one of the most celebrated of US presidents.

His gaunt features stare out from the $5 note and there are dozens of books about "the Great Emancipator" - the man who defeated the South in the Civil War, the man who ended slavery.

In fact it was all far more complicated than that. And it is hoped the new Lincoln Campus just announced here in Washington DC will finally do justice to his extraordinary life and times.

Words of Lincoln console nation
11 Sep 02 |  Americas

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