The Petersen House was one of many similar, ordinary buildings on Tenth Street during the Civil War.
On April 15, 1865, the home became forever known as the “House Where Lincoln Died." Over the next six decades, three families occupied the building as a home, a business, and finally, as a museum.
Within a decade after the death of Abraham Lincoln, the home's namesakes were dead of suspicious causes, their possessions auctioned and their family forever fractured. The next owners, weary of the constant stream of visitors requesting to see the room where the martyred president died, lasted less than a decade.
The house was then occupied by veteran Lincoln collector Osborn H. Oldroyd, who moved his array of objects from the Lincoln home in Springfield into the House Where Lincoln Died. For the next thirty-three years, it remained the only museum devoted to Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C. Oldroyd's collection was purchased by the U.S. government in 1926, moved across the street, and is today on display at Ford's Theatre.
As for that "ordinary" house on Tenth Street? It survives as the spot where Abraham Lincoln began his journey to secular sainthood.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Alan E. Hunter is a former officer and board member of the Indiana National Road Association and member of the Irvington Historic Society. He has authored five books on the Irvington community of Indianapolis and two books on the Historic Indiana National Road. Al writes a weekly column for the Weekly View newspaper in Irvington. Al's articles have led to guest appearances on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, ESPN, NBC Sports and many other local and national news programs. A former high school teacher, Al is married to Rhonda, and they have two children, Jasmine and Addison.