The Surratt House & Tavern

I’ve finally crossed the Surratt House off my bucket list. I’ve wanted to see it ever since I learned of Mary Surratt from the movie The Conspirator in 2011.

Mary Surratt was a confederate and an accomplice of Booth’s in the plot to kill Lincoln. In addition to her Maryland tavern (above), she owned a boarding house in DC, where John Wilkes Booth was a frequent visitor. On the day that he was to assassinate Lincoln, Mary traveled to her tavern and instructed her tenant John Lloyd to stash Booth’s pistols. He would come for them that night, after he made his escape from Ford’s Theatre into the Maryland countryside.

The movie leaves it up to the viewer if Surratt knew of the assassination and knowingly committed treason. However, the author of The Assassin’s Accomplice argues that Mary Surratt, who was eventually hung with the Booth’s other conspirators, was a willing participant.

I have to admit that the tour wasn’t what I was expecting. It was more politically charged than I cared for, with the tour guide arguing that Booth was a better man than commonly thought and that Lincoln was no martyr who liked to tell N-word jokes (except he actually said it, which was appalling and uncomfortable).

In his determination to clear Booth’s name (and the Surratts’), the guide left out key details…like where Booth’s gun had been stashed! I realized the omission only after we left.

I can’t tell you whose bedroom this is, because we were given little detail about the house. But, I did manage to find a sewing room:

Random Thoughts

  • While we were at the Surratt House, we bought a map of John Wilkes Booth’s escape route. I’d just read Manhunt: the 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer and wanted to see the route in person. Unfortunately, we’d forgotten about Maryland traffic. It was so bad that we only made it to Chic-fil-A (obviously not a stop on the route, but I was starving).
  • Ben and I moved into a new apartment last Saturday. We’re not completely settled in yet, but the new place has some definite benefits: lots of sunlight, an in-unit washer and dryer (I’m still getting used to being able to do laundry whenever I want), and a bathroom counter (it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is). The cats took to it immediately. Instead of cowering inside cabinets, they laid down in front of the balcony, which has been their favorite spot ever since.
  • I went to Baked & Wired this week, which is commonly cited as having  the best cupcakes in the DC area. It lived up to its reputation. It has a ton of flavors to choose from and the cupcakes are dense, so they’re really filling (I could only eat one, though I had plans for several).
  • Georgetown has an Amazon bookstore! It opened in March but I only found out about it this week. It doesn’t have as many books as Barnes & Noble, but it has the bestsellers. Amazon Prime members pay prices, so the book that I bought about Wallis Simpson was $17 instead of the $28 list price. All books are shown with their Amazon review rating (I’ve heard that the store only carries books with a rating of  at least 4 stars). Amazon prices aren’t listed, but there are scanners throughout the store, or you can scan the barcode with the Amazon app and it will take you to the book’s Amazon page. It was a fun experience, and I can’t wait to go back after I’ve gone through my current stack of books.

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