My husband and I recently decided to travel to Fall River, Massachusetts to visit the Lizzie Borden House Bed & Breakfast. It may be a bit macabre, but the case is absolutely fascinating to me. (If you're not familiar with the story, check out wikipedia here for a quick overview).
Tour sign near the gift shop at the back of the house.
I became a little bit obsessed with Lizzie Borden about a year and a half ago. I'm already quite addicted to history, and true crime stories. Lizzie's story really fascinated me. Not so much because she allegedly committed parricide, but more so because of the time period; (The murders happened in 1892). The way the case was handled (bungled?), how certain relevant circumstantial evidence was left out of the trial, and Lizzie's various stories about where she was at the time of the murders. "I was in the kitchen, I was on the stairs, I was upstairs, I was in the barn, I was eating pears...", and because after all that, she was acquitted! Once you delve into the story, it's really intriguing.
I found out the actual Borden house was turned into a bed & breakfast museum in 1996. (The house was built in 1845, the Borden's were the 2nd owners). I kept looking at the website wishing I could visit. Finally, I found out there's a bus terminal only a 3 minute walk from the bed & breakfast, and that kind of sealed everything for me. I booked the trip!
92 Second Street Fall River MA
This is a long winded picture heavy post so please click below to continue reading!September 30th 2015, this was our itinerary:
Greyhound- Philadelphia to NY
Peter Pan- New York to Providence RI.
Peter Pan- Providence RI to Fall River MA.
This sounded fairly simple, considering, I've flown to the Philippines by myself quite a few times, and have had to transfer flights... but we had horrendous experiences both times at the NY Port Authority. On the way up we were directed to the wrong gate by the bus driver. (Even though it matched our ticket exactly!) We missed our bus. I may have had a nervous breakdown. NY was the most unhelpful bus terminal ever. The employees knew nothing, it was finally a stranger that directed us the help desk. Greyhound scheduled us on a later bus so we arrived up in Fall River 2 hours later than expected.
To make a long story shorter- on the way back home October 1st, the bus was an hour late getting back to New York, which meant we had less than 5 minutes to run through a crowded long station, we barely made our bus home. I was a nervous wreck. :-\ So in the future- I think I'd take Amtrak to Providence Rhode Island, and then get a 20 minute cab ride to Fall River. It would definitely be less stressful I think, in the long run.
Excluding the travel hiccups. The trip itself was an amazing experience! We got to the Lizzie Borden House around 6:30pm on September 30th. It was about a 3 minute walk to the house from the bus station. The surrounding area is really nice, but I was not prepared for the hills! Fall River has some hills guys! My calves got a good work out the 24 hours or so we spent up there. :) When I saw the Borden house in the distance it was such a neat experience... I can't even explain the feeling I got.
What I also liked is when we checked in before the tour, and after the tour. You have free reign to explore the house, take photos, you can even pick up stuff. I really loved that, because it made the experience more in-depth. Most museums don't want you to sit on or touch anything. This was more like staying overnight at a friends house. There were only a few things that were behind glass that you couldn't touch.
Front Entry Hall
Front parlor where Lizzie was told by the mayor, police, that she was suspected of the murders.
Lizze's photographs on the bookshelf.
Other side of the sitting room where Mr. Borden was murdered in 1892.
View from the sitting room to front entry, parlor.
View from the front steps, you can see under the guest bed, that's where Mrs. Borden was discovered, she had been murdered.
Where Mrs. Borden was found murdered August 4th, 1892.
Heading back down the front stairs, you can see the front door to the right. Also, the sign, haha!
I got the weirdest feeling standing not where Mrs. Borden was murdered, but standing where the would be murderer would have stood. It was eery. I didn't get the same feeling down in the sitting room where Mr. Borden was murdered. My explanation is maybe because Mr. Borden never woke from his nap when he was murdered. He passed right into death, 10 blows from a hatchet to the face. But, Mrs. Borden saw her attacker, the first blow came from the front. Approximately 19 blows with a hatchet. I'm sure there is a lot of negative energy left over in that room from the violent attack. I don't think I could sleep in the guest room! (The other couple had booked that room though!)
The sitting room. Mr. Borden was murdered as he napped on August 4th, 1892.
I was sitting on the sofa in the place where Mr. Borden was murdered in this photo & the one below.
#mynailsandmyhatchet new hash tag, haha! The hatchet was actually rubber.
I was wearing A England Rose Bower here.
We were told the Borden's crime scene photos were the first in the USA. The very first ever crime scene photos were from the Ripper murders in England.
All the rooms actually open into all the other rooms in this house. When it was originally built in 1845 it was made as apartments. So the upstairs and downstairs mirror each other in layout. For privacy the Borden's always kept all the doors shut or locked. And Lizzie originally had her bed catty corner to close the door into her parents bedroom. Her parents still had access to their room from the back stairs. Originally Emma, Lizzie's sister had the bigger room, but she traded with Lizzie when Lizzie returned from a trip to Europe. Emma was 10 years older than Lizzie, and more like a mother. Their mother died when Lizzie was 2 years old. They never quite accepted their stepmother Abby Borden.
Lizzie Borden's bedroom, originally her sister Emma's.
Lizzie's actual books are on the 2nd shelf, her initials are in the front covers.
Antique bottles, & a newspaper article alluding to the 'prussic acid' poison Lizzie tried to buy the day before the murders. This was also not admissible in court...
I loved the Living Dead Doll of Lizzie. I had to buy a mini version on eBay for myself. Lizzie's handwritten initials are on the book cover behind the doll.
Emma's bedroom, originally Lizzie's.
A tid-bit I never knew. We were told Bridget the maid was not allowed on the 2nd floor in the Borden house. It because of the social class back then, and because of the stereo-types they had against the Irish and Catholic's. I always wondered why Mrs. Borden was making the bed in the guest room the morning she was murdered, now we know. The daughters, and Mrs. Borden took care of their own bedrooms. Bridget cleaned, did laundry, cooked, downstairs.
Bridget, the maid's attic bedroom.
We were told in the winter the maid would have to close that attic door so the rest of the house could keep warm. I sure hope they gave her extra blankets...
The cellar was creepy! In the one part there's this basin that they used to do laundry in. If you take a flash photo you can see the outline of a face on the back wall! We were all encouraged to take a photo during the tour. Whether a coincidence or not, pretty weird! (If you can't see it, try tilting your screen back).
Our entire trip photo album with captions can be found on Photobucket here. There's 142 photos. The whole trip was an amazing experience. I understand the house layout so much more now, and when I re-read books I can say... I was there!
References & Links:
*TripAdvisor: Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum
I like these books about Lizzie Borden and the trial:
A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight
Lizzie Borden on Trial: Murder, Ethnicity, and Gender
Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River
Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River
*While I've been absent from this blog for several months, I've still been active on Instagram & Facebook.