An actor stands dressed as an 1860s detective, holding a notepad. Behind him on a brick wall is posted a reward poster for the capture of Lincoln's assassin.
Eric M. Messner as Detective James McDevitt in the Ford’s Theatre History on Foot walking tour, Investigation: Detective McDevitt. Photo by Gary Erskine.

Detective McDevitt: Ford’s Celebrates Its 1000th Tour

2 min read

Since our History on Foot tours began in 2008, more than 28,500 patrons have patrolled the streets of downtown D.C. as deputies with Detective James A. McDevitt as their guide. In September 2019, our tour celebrated 1,000 performances!

Playwright Richard Hellesen nimbly brings the real Detective James A. McDevitt to life in our scripted tour, originally directed by Mark Ramont. McDevitt joined the Metropolitan Police in 1861 as a patrolman and detective. On the night of April 14, 1865, he was on duty and one of the first at the Ford’s Theatre crime scene. In a time of chaos and pandemonium, police relied heavily on testimonies and tips to follow the case.

Two patrons wear deputy badges for the Investigation:Detective McDevitt walking tour.
Photo by Damon Bowe Photography.

Today, our Investigation: Detective McDevitt walking tour is an interactive way to experience the history of 1860s Washington and better understand the Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy, which aimed to knock down the U.S. government in one night. Tour participants join in as deputies, working with McDevitt through the evidence and history to decide which off assassin John Wilkes Booth’s cronies were guilty. We hope you enjoy these facts and highlights from our guides and production team.

Map of downtown D.C. showing the route of the Investigation: Detective McDevitt walking tour.


miles walked

Actor Michael Feldsher, dressed as Detective James McDevitt, leads a tour outside of Ford's Theatre.


Witness testimonies given

Actor Matthew Dewberry, dressed as Detective McDevitt, leads a walking tour.


Loads of laundry cleaned


Actor William Diggle, dressed as Detective James McDevitt, holds a photo of assassin John Wilkes Booth as he leads a tour outside of Ford's Theatre.


Photographs carried on each tour


Actor Eric Messner, dressed as Detective McDevitt, stands in front of a brick wall where there is a posted wanted sign for assassin John Wilkes Booth.


Actors who have played McDevitt through the years

You, too, can join Detective McDevitt for a History on Foot walking tour from March through October. Check the schedule and purchase your tickets today.

[Actors featured (in order of appearance): Michael Feldsher, Matthew Dewberry, William Diggle and Eric Messner.]

Lauren Beyea is Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at Ford’s Theatre, where she oversees media relations. She is editor of the Ford’s Theatre Blog. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenBeyea.

Headshot for Lauren Beyea.

Lauren Beyea was Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at Ford’s Theatre, where she oversaw media relations.

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