Friday, July 14, 2017

The Lizzie Borden House

Yesterday my niece and I decided to take a day trip over to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. I had a blast and enjoyed every minute (my fourteen year old niece enjoyed it too, but said she got a bit queasy at the details.)  Of course, if you've been reading this blog for sometime, you'll know that Lizzie Borden's story pops up from time to time. The murder of her father and step-mother is fascinating to me.

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum is the actual home where the Borden's lived at the time of the murder. According to our guide, none of the original furnishings survived because after Lizzie and her sister moved out of the house much of the furniture was placed into storage and over the years flooding destroyed most of it and the remaining pieces were lost. The current owners purchased the property and meticulously restored it using historic photos of the house and period appropriate antiques that match as closely as possible the original. The house opened as a bed and breakfast and museum in 1996.

The tour is just under an hour and unlike most house tours you can sit on the furniture and take as many photos as you'd like. Historic photos and documents are sprinkled throughout the interior helping you to step into the past. Our guide was very knowledgable and open to a bit of macabre fun. There is a rubber hatchet on a facsimile of the couch where Mr. Borden was murdered that you're encouraged to use for photo opportunities. (Of course, I had to attack my niece with it.) You can also see reproductions of Mr. & Mrs. Borden's broken skulls and an antique autopsy table that is very similar to the one the Borden's were placed on. Mr. Borden's autopsy was actually done in the family dining room.

Borden Reproduction SkullsAntique Autopsy Table

If you'd like a longer tour and the possibility of a ghostly interaction, you can stay overnight in the house. Guests get a two hour, in-depth tour that includes all kinds of gory details. I'm tempted to go back.

What I most appreciated about the tour was just being in the space. Despite what you see in the movies about Lizzie Borden, the house is quite small. It's impossible to believe that neither Lizzie nor the servant heard anything that was going on despite being in the house or the barn when the murders took place. The barn is also quite small and not far from the house.  It really gave weight to my belief that even if Lizzie didn't commit the murders herself she and the servant were accomplices or complicit in the murders.

This year is the 125th anniversary of the murders and the museum has a two-day event planned to mark it. Besides a reenactment of the murders where visitors get to play newspaper reporters, there will also be vendors on the grounds selling their wares, a pychic, and ghost hunters. The event takes place on August 4th and 5th and tickets go on sale on July 21st. Visit the website for more information.

If you're in the area of Fall River, I highly recommended a visit. If you're pressed for time, at least stop in the gift shop and purchase a Lizzie Borden bobble-head doll- I did. (If you live far away, the website has an on-line gift shop too.) Every fan of the macabre needs one.

Lizzie Borden Bobble Head Doll

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