Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Lizzie Borden House: Now and Then

I recently took a trip to Fall River, Massachusetts and spent two nights at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. This is the original house where Lizzie, the New England spinster, murdered her Father and Stepmother on August 4th, 1892.
You may remember the famous poem, "Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her Mother forty whacks, When she saw what she had done, She gave her Father forty one."
Lizzie was found not guilty, but to this day most people believe she committed the crimes.
The house was a private residence until the mid-90's when it was opened as a bed and breakfast. The owners claim that the house is haunted and there have been many tv shows documenting this. During my two nights there I didn't experience anything out of the ordinary.
Here's my Mom at the front door.
The back of the house at the time of the murders and how it looks today. The original barn was much closer to the house. A few years ago they recreated the barn, but set it further back to make room for parking. Inside the barn is a small gift shop.
The front entry. I was told that all the doors and locks are original to the house except for two.
Off the front entry is the parlor. This is where Lizzie was told that she was the prime suspect in the murder case.
On the morning of August 4th, Lizzie's father, Andrew, returned home early from work. He decided to take a nape and laid down on the sofa in the sitting room. The above crime scene photo shows what happened next. Andrew's face was completely crushed on one side. According to court testimony, Lizzie found the body and called up to the maid, Bridget Sullivan, that "someone had killed Father."
While Lizzie was being tended to by neighbors, the maid went upstairs and from the landing, looked over into the guest room and saw a body laying on the ground on the other side of the bed.
Laying beside the bed was the body of Mrs. Abbey Borden. Both victims had been killed by blows from a hatchet. At the time of the murders, this room was occupied by Lizzie's uncle, John V. Morse. He was out of town on that day.
In the corner of this bedroom they have the original costume worn by actress Elizabeth Montgomery from the 1970's tv movie, "The Legend of Lizzie Borden". Montgomery is probably most famous for playing the witch, Samantha, in the long running tv show "Bewitched".
The staircase is original to the house.
As you go downstairs, there's a small sign that reads "CAUTION! Watch your head! Low ceiling. There have already been two fatal head injuries in this house."
Here's Lizzie's bedroom where I stayed on the first night.
All over the place, pictures of Lizzie stare out at you.
In this case is a collection of Lizzie's original books. You can see she initialed the one behind the doll.
Notice the title of the book, second from the right. "With Edged Tools"
Having breakfast in the dining room.
The kitchen looks into the sitting room where Andrew was killed.
Here's the basement.
Back in the corner they found this hatchet, though it was never determined if it was the murder weapon.

This is where they would collect rain used to wash clothes.
The side of the house.
An old view of Second street.
Here I am at the Fall River Historical Society. They have an entire room dedicated to the Borden case. On display is the hatchet that police found, the blood stained bed cover from the upstairs bedroom, and many photographs from the case.

After the trial Lizzie decided to move to the nicer part of town, up on the hill. This was her house until she died there in 1927.
She called the house Maplecroft and had the name carved into the steps.
This is Oak Grove Cemetery, where the Borden family is buried.
They have so many visitors wanting to see the graves that they actually have arrows that direct you to them.
The family plot.
Lizzie headstone reads "Lizbeth".
Lizzie and her sister Emma side by side. They died just nine days apart.

This is the former Central Congregational Church, where Lizzie attended.
Down the street from the Borden house is The St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, where the maid Bridget Sullivan attended.