Back at Work: Staff Reflect on Reopening to Visitors

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The Ford’s Theatre Society team and our National Park Service colleagues are ready to welcome you back to the museum and theatre during our phased reopening this summer (Petersen House and Aftermath Exhibits remain closed at this time). Below, our box office and visitor services staff share what returning to Ford’s following our pandemic closure means to them.

Interested in visiting soon? Check out our Welcome Back page for the latest about the safety measures in place, advance reservations and timed entry passes. We look forward to your safe return to our national historic site!

Jacob stands with arms crossed in front of a painting of Abraham Lincoln.
Ticket Services Manager Jacob Schnabel has worked at Ford's for four years.

Ticket Services Manager Jacob Schnabel, why are you excited to be back?

I have missed my team! It is great to work in the museum and theatre again, see my colleagues and remember what it is like to work in-person again. It feels good to be back in the rhythm, even with limited capacities at the start.

I’ve enjoyed sprucing things up in the box office and clearing out items from our previous theatre season as we make room for new projects ahead! We are excited and incredibly prepared for reopening, ensuring that both staff and visitors have a safe, enjoyable experience while on-site.

What part of Ford’s history do you find most fascinating?

As a native North Dakotan, it has always been interesting to me that a North Dakota senator in the 1940s led the decades-long legislative effort to restore the dilapidated Ford’s Theatre building into the refurbished replica of the theatre we work in today. I guess it’s fun to think that my relatives – who likely voted for this Republican senator – were partially responsible for the National Historic Site status of Ford’s Theatre and how it is a working theatre and therefore partially to thank for my employment!

Ticket Services Supervisor Aaron Johnson, why are you excited to be back?

Aaron stands in the Ford's Theatre lobby.
Ticket Services Supervisor Aaron Johnson has worked with Ford’s for two years.

It is just a joy to work at Ford's and to be able to share such an important part of American history with the public. Theatre and history are two big passions of mine. To be able to work at a place where those two realms come together is almost a dream come true. Also, the staff is so friendly and personable that it makes it a very pleasant work environment.

What part of Ford’s history do you find most fascinating?

I've always found the history of the theatre and the assassination to be a fascinating subject. Before I worked here, I had no idea that the theatre has such a storied history as being a war records facility. I think when people come to the site they learn so much more about our nation and leave with broader understanding of the impact of that one night.

Taryn stands next to a museum panel showing a life mask of Abraham Lincoln.
Ticket Services Associate Taryn Schlitzer has worked for Ford's for two and a half years. She moonlights with the visitor services team.

Ticket Services Associate Taryn Schlitzer, why are you excited to be back?

To see familiar faces again! I didn't realize how important work relationships are for my social and mental growth until I was without them during the pandemic. I’m excited to see everyone in person again and have that comfort back!

What part of Ford’s history do you find most fascinating?

I love that Lincoln was an avid patron of the theater, but not in the sense of the art form that we know today. It wasn't as highbrow back then as it is now, so for me it translates as his guilty pleasure. Like competitive reality shows are for me. There's something innately human and universal in that detail that really resonates with me.

Steve stands in the Ford's Lobby by a painting of Abraham Lincoln.
Ticket Services Associate Steve Langley has worked with Ford's for five years.

Ticket Services Associate Steve Langley, why are you excited to be back?

I'm eager to connect with visitors from around the world, the nation and the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia) again. We’re all pandemic survivors.

What part of Ford’s history do you find most fascinating?

As a D.C. native, I would love to time travel to the early 1860s to see how I would be treated at Ford's Theatre and how I would handle and feel about such treatment—given the rights listed in the Constitution.

Chris stands outside of the Ford's Theatre entrance with the board where daytime entry details are posted.
Visitor Services Associate and Education Program Artist Chris Stinson has worked with Ford's for 10 years.

Visitor Services Associate Chris Stinson, why are you excited to be back?

I'm thrilled to welcome the world back to our wonderful site and to share incredible stories about one of the most dramatic and consequential events in American history.

What part of Ford’s history do you find most fascinating?

I love the story about Laura Keene, the star of Our American Cousin, stopping the show mid-performance upon spotting President Lincoln enter the theatre. The orchestra played "Hail to the Chief,” and Lincoln received a standing ovation from a packed house of people grateful to him for saving the Union. It's nice to know that before tragedy struck, Lincoln received some long-overdue appreciation from his fellow Americans for all of his incredible work and sacrifice during the war.

Lauren Beyea is Interim Director of Communications and Marketing at Ford's Theatre. She is editor of the Ford's Theatre Blog. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenBeyea.