J.W. Booth's Peephole?


Forum Host
Oct 10, 2012
Mt. Jackson, Va
During the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, the prosecution attempted to link Ned Spangler to the assassination. Spangler, a stagehand at Ford’s Theatre, was friends with Booth, and the prosecution believed he had aided the assassin. To prove Spangler’s role, prosecutors argued that he had drilled a hole in the door leading to the theater box. They then argued that Booth had used this hole to spy on Lincoln and his party. However, they provided no conclusive evidence to prove their argument.
In 1940, John T. Ford’s grandson gave the door, which had been saved following the gutting of the theatre, to the Lincoln Museum, now Ford’s Theatre NHS. Examining this door closely, one will notice a small hole above the doorknob. Historians have debated who drilled this hole with Spangler and Booth being the prime suspects. In 1962, Harry Ford’s son, Frank Ford, refuted this claim, writing in a letter that:
“The hole was bored by my father, Harry Clay Ford, or rather on his orders, and was bored for the simple reason it would allow the guard, one Parker easy opportunity whenever he so desired to look into the box rather than open the inner door to check on the presidential party.”
Regardless of who drilled it, Booth seems to have used the hole to observe Lincoln’s position before entering the box.

#FordsTheatreNPS #AbrahamLincoln #MuseumMonday

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In 1940, John T. Ford’s grandson gave the door, which had been saved following the gutting of the theatre
Thanks for posting this. I was wondering how the door survived everything that has happened to the interior of the theatre since April 1865. This answers my question.
Jun 7, 2021
I was under the impression that the box where the Lincolns sat that night, along with the rest of the interior of the building, had been gutted and rebuilt, so none of it is original in any way. I have no interest in seeing a recreated interior, but the original door to the box would be worth the trip. It looks like some souvenir hunters have carved a few mementos off the side of the door. Thanks for posting this!