Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lincoln's Ford's Theater Carriage Restored



In my daily search for news relating to Honest Abe, I came across an article in today's The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) about the restoration and conservation of the carriage which carried Lincoln to his fate at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865.

This carriage, housed in the collection of The National Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana, was acquired by the Studebaker family in 1889 from its second owner, who had purchased it from Robert Lincoln, the president's oldest son, after the assassination.

The news story tells how the conservator, Brian Howard, got into his business and how he's become a leading expert in his field. The restoration was completed only yesterday, January 30, 2008 after months of work. According to Mr. Howard, he doesn't want the public to see his work on it; he wants viewers to see the carriage as Lincoln himself did.

The carriage was originally acquired by Lincoln at his second inauguration in 1864. It was said to be the president's favorite vehicle. Interestingly, the carriage has steps which are connected to its door, so when the door is opened, the steps come down automatically. Likewise, the steps are raised when the door is closed.
When the carriage arrived in Carlisle, it was in a fairly sorry condition. The leather on the fenders and seats had severely deteriorated, there were cracks in the wood, hinges coming loose, etc. Thanks to an email tip, the team even discovered that the carriage had Lincoln's monogram "AL" on the sides. Through careful examination and tedious work, the conservators restored the monogram. Other work included repairing splits in the seats, filling in paint which had flecked away from the wood, and stabilized the door hinges.
The carriage is now on display in the museum. 

5 comments:

Sarah said...

My old history teacher was telling me that he got to see/touch/smell/be in the presence of the carriage while it was at the place being restored. I am jealous.

Geoff Elliott said...

I'm jealous, too, Sarah! Thanks for looking at my blog.

Linkorn said...

What a great find. I wonder if this carriage was used in his day-to-day life, such as trips to the Solder's Home. Again, a great thing for history and preservation.

Anthony said...

Geoff,

This is a fascinating project. I can't say I'm especially knowledgeable about the fine details of Lincoln's life. Yet he's still one of my favorite Presidents.

If you have a chance to stop by The Lives and Times... shoot me over an email; there's link in my profile.

Interested in connecting with some local bloggers, one way or another.

Jean said...

Geoff, this is absolutely fascinating. And what it must say about the man himself that, 143 years later, we still press to see, touch, and experience some point of contact with Lincoln, no matter how small.
"We will not see his likes again."

 
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