2014 seems to be the year of Lizzie Borden (for me at least). I stopped (with my co-author Summer) at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast on Memorial Day Weekend. We did the tour of the house and we were both really taken with the building. The staff there was really great and it is one of my favorite places we have visited! On Memorial weekend we also stopped at OakGrove Cemetery to visit the family plot and it is a beautiful cemetery that I hope to be able to visit again, when I have more time to explore. When we were at the Borden House we talked with our tour guide, Danielle, and other members of staff and they told us about the reenactment they do on the anniversary of the murder. Needless to say we were intrigued at the idea and the opportunity to stay at the house on the anniversary. Summer (being somewhat more obsessed than I) kept an eye out for the yearly Ebay auction that the B&B has for the John Morse Room on August 4th.
With more determination and insanity than I possess (and I have lots of crazy!) Summer won the auction. We were going to spend August 4th in the room where Abby Borden was murdered. We also got to see the reenactment performed by the Pear Essential Players and the special evening tour of the house (for people spending the night only). So on August 4th we had a full day of Borden activities planned. We spent the night before in Seekonk (a name so fun to pronounce!) then drove over to Fall River in the morning. We went to the 11am reenactment then made plans with the owner for what time we could check into the room. After we grabbed a quick bite to eat (okay we stole a couple of pears from the tree) we headed off to the Fall River Historical Society and did the tour house. They have memorabilia on the Borden family and especially Lizzie but there is also a lot about the general history of Fall River. It is (and was) a thriving port city that should be known for more than just the tragic events on August 4, 1892! After the tour we browsed the gift shop and had a chance to speak with Michael Martins one of the authors of Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and her Fall River and the curator of the Historical Society. He is an incredibly knowledgable man and generous with his information. I purchased a copy of the book and hope to be able to finish it soon (it is hard to read… not because of the content but the weight it is about 7 pounds!)
After the trip to the Historical Society it was time to check into our room. We dropped off our stuff then wandered around the building for a bit. We even tried to give the Ouija Board a spin but the only thing it said to us was Goodbye. We then headed over to the Taphouse Grille where we had some excellent food and some even better drinks (I am now a fan of the lemon drop martini!) We walked back (only slightly tipsy) to the B&B and got ready for the evening tour. The tours last, usually, about an hour but the tour this night went on for a couple of hours as we went through the rooms and the basement. While walking down to the basement of the house a broom came off the nail it was hanging on and hit Summer in the head. Not sure if that is paranormal but it was strange since no one touched the broom and it was a long nail that it had to slide off of before falling. We were shown the odd face in an alcove of the basement which can’t be seen with the naked eye and that is where our tour ended. After the tour we were going to try the Ouija board again and Summer was going to run her audio equipment all night in hopes of catching some EVPs during the night. However, Summer had taken a sleeping pill (in hopes of it helping her stay asleep and not mess up any recordings) and was to drowsy to use the Ouija board. So we called it a night. When Summer had settled and gone to sleep I got up and turned off the small lamp on a table near the door. When I got back to the bed and laid down, I felt something ‘elbow’ me in the ribs. It wasn’t painful it just felt like what someone would do to get your attention. I froze for a moment waiting to see if something was going to happen but there was nothing after that so I don’t know what that was. In the morning I got up, got dressed and sat in the parlor for a while just writing in my notebook. Another couple came down and just sat in the parlor with me for a while. It was very nice… peaceful. They then served breakfast (a similar meal to what the Borden’s ate on the day of the murder) We had a chance to talk to some of the other people who stayed at the B&B, including members of the Pear Essential Players. It was a very nice morning.
After Summer and I packed up we headed over to Oak Grove Cemetery to pay our respects and were pleased to see that flowers had been left at Andrew and Abby’s graves (The Pear Essential Players had left them the day before). Then we went to see Maplecroft, the home Lizzie and Emma had moved to after their parents murder. It is a very nice home and was for sale at the time we stopped by to visit. (A potential business opportunity?) then we headed back home after our adventure.
Now for the reason it has taken me months to share this story. I’m not totally comfortable with how we handle the subject. I am totally including myself in this as well but after hearing about Lizzie’s life and visiting the graves of the family I keep asking myself “How soon is too soon?”. If I am honest nothing at Fall River is too over the top (incredibly macabre but that is my kind of thing). Although it being a gag to lie in the place where Abby was murdered does twinge at my mind. I have to say my sensitivity comes from 2 sources. The most vile TV movie starring Christina Ritchie which I won’t even name. There was nothing about that story (what I saw of it) that didn’t hit the rage button for me. I admit I only saw about the first 15 minutes (if that) of the movie before I couldn’t watch anymore and the ending (because Summer insisted that my rage be fueled just a bit more). Here is the thing, I don’t think Lizzie is guilty of the crime. She may have been complicit and I’m sure knew more than she was saying but I don’t think the jury was wrong in acquitting her. Beyond that she was found not guilty and still had to spend the rest of her life branded as someone who not only committed a double murder but murdered her own father. This bothers me more than something that happened over 120 years ago should and it pricks at my conscience when we crack jokes or wear silly t-shirts (I own the Miss Lizbeth’s Finishing School shirt and still wear it). Is it wrong or is this something that would have amused Lizzie? Even still it was a brutal double homicide and that lingers on my mind. All that being said I hope to go back to the B&B spend the night and maybe go to another reenactment. Because it is a story worth knowing and a story worth sharing and the staff and owners at the B&B have not been overly sensational. Also I’m a bit twisted.
I will include a second post later today with photos from fall River including the reenactment but for now you get a few teaser shots and my (very important) opinion.