A Relic From Lincoln's Death

President Abraham Lincoln was sitting in a rocking chair at Ford's Theater in 1865 when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Now on Lincoln's 190th birthday it is being restored, reports CBS News Correspondent Drew Levinson.

"One of the most dramatic moments in American history took place in this chair," says historic upholstery conservator Elizabeth Lahikainen.

With the precision of a surgeon, she uses needle and thread to stabilize the chair's original silk covering. No detail goes unexamined, from the minute to the gory.

"We're presenting all of the conditions of the object because the condition, including the stains, some of which are blood, presumably from Abraham Lincoln, represent the story of the object," Lahikainen says.

After Lincoln's death, the chair was confiscated by the War Department and used as evidence. It then moved from place to place, including the Smithsonian Institution. Then in 1929, Henry Ford bought it for about $2,000. Today, it is priceless, and has been on display.

"It's a relic we want to keep for our children and grandchildren," says Ford Museum coordinator Nancy Bryk.

"It's a humbling experience to get close to any object that has such a powerful story to tell," says Lahikainen. "It means a lot to me to participate in its preservation for future generations."

When the work is completed, the chair will be put on display in an environmentally controlled glass case as modern technology preserves American history.

Reported By Drew Levinson
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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