Lying Where Abraham Lincoln Died

by Chris Murray on April 15, 2015

img003Chris Murray lying where President Lincoln died. Photo by Matthew Murray, 1959. Copyright © Govinda Gallery Archive. All Rights Reserved.

Today is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death by assassination. In 1959, my father and I visited the former boarding house where President Lincoln lay mortally wounded after being taken there after he was shot at Ford’s Theatre. The house where Lincoln died was a much quieter place in the 1950s than it is now. When I walked in to the Petersen House with my father, Matthew Murray, there was only one guard sitting on a chair in the right corner of the room. He was sleeping. My father, who was a bit of a character, told me to climb over the little railing and lie on the bed in the room where Lincoln died and he would take a picture. I did as my father told me and the result is this photograph, taken with an original Brownie camera, that I saved since that time and which has never been seen before. If you look closely you can see I was wearing earmuffs. My family is from New York City and my parents and I were visiting my older brother Tom who was at Georgetown University and my sister Rita who was attending Trinity College in Washington.
Picture 1Julius Ulke took this photograph shortly after the President’s body was removed from the Petersen House, 1865. Note the same wallpaper as in the photo from 1959.

“Now he belongs to the ages”-Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, 1865.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

5 responses to “Lying Where Abraham Lincoln Died”

  1. Gus Kayafas says:

    Hi Chris,

    I enjoy your emails very much – this one in particular. I still remember your story about Andy advising your Dad that he should never sell his apartment when he had decided to move out of the city (1970’s?). Did I remember that clearly? How are you? I’ve been making regular visits every 6-8 weeks to my Mom and Dad in Leesburg. He’ll be 90 in a couple months, she’s 88 and dementia is taking its toll… Are you around to have lunch – still live near the Gallery site? I’m off to AIPAD in a couple hours – you coming there?

    Talk soon,

    Gus (617) 281.6215 This is what’s happened here:

    Lots happening, this is what I’ve been emailing regarding the past 8 weeks:

    “After 23+ years in the same evolving space in Concord, we planned a move to new facilities (unfortunately, in January the landlord dictated an exit 3 months before the planned transition). I’ve been working from literally 4-5am until late evening, 7 days a week and have been unable to do much more than react…. we now have the matting/framing, laminating and mounting, offices, digital printing and scanning areas functional; this week we have completed the third (16’) of 3 darkroom/washing sinks – we’ll have a working darkroom by mid April. We have 2 large, multipurpose under construction, all equipped with DeVere enlargers (3 8×10”, 1 special purpose “point source” 4×5”, a 10×10” horizontal, and an 11×14” Salzman with a custom DeVere 12×15” light source). We’ve been making platinum prints, digital prints to 60”, about to acquire direct digital to gelatin-silver fiber, and traditional prints – apparently we are functioning in all 3 centuries of photographic processes….

    Regarding the moving and building out, during the last 8 weeks… into a 5000’ floor in a terrific building in South Boston’s arts district: it was, of course, much more work and stuff to be moved than I had ever imagined – it’s amazing what one can accumulate in 39 years of “acquiring equipment”, and the snow didn’t help. The final tally was 24 UHaul truck trips (14-20”) and a van that we packed, moved, and unloaded, 2 Gentle Giant large trucks with staff and a crane that they packed, moved, stored, and delivered, all during 3 weeks through 80+” of snow and impassable side roads. A more adventuresome time couldn’t have been planned… This is the textbook case of fixing the wheels of the locomotive without being able to stop. But at least our digital and finishing is up to speed and serving our clients…”

  2. nina Black Reid says:

    How cool is that !!!!! Only you Murr Man ! Only you ! with love from Nina

  3. Janet Macoska says:

    Chris…that’s creepy!!!!! Didn’t it freak you out!!

  4. Henk Tas says:

    adore and cherising the past right from the start ““““““““`chrisman great !!! picture
    Chris !
    ps. one of my old artcollege friends left Holland for Thailand this week and gave me all his old dutch rockmags from the sixties there,s lots of Donovan articles and photos ““`(amasing more donovan stuff 64 69 than Dylan at the time )

  5. Larry Pryluck says:

    That picture of you is pretty amazing, if for no other reason than that one of us ordinary folk had a chance to directly touch and interact with a historical artifact. I’ve always wondered why furniture displays in museums have all the drawers closed so we can’t see such things as the dovetail work. Too much of this could hurt the objects, so we do have to strike a balance.

    The closest I ever came to “touching history” was being allowed to play the clavinet used to record Buddy Holly’s “Every Day” at the Norman Petty Studio in Clovis, NM. It still sounded good, too.

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