The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast
The Scandalous History Of The Borden Home
Andrew Borden was a successful--if shady--businessman who had a personal net worth of $6 million dollars by today's standards. Just before noon on Aug. 4, 1892, his youngest daughter Lizzie discovered the lifeless bodies of her father, who had sustained 10 blows to the skull, and her stepmother, who had sustained 18. A hatchet, presumed to be the murder weapon, was discovered in the house, its handle broken and its blade wiped clean. Lizzie Borden was charged with the murders although there was no physical evidence to connect her to the crime. After spending 10 months in jail pending trial Lizzie was found Not Guilty by a jury that took only 90 minutes to reach its verdict.
Those interested in a unique vacation experience may wish to consider the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, located at 230-2nd Street, Fall River, Massachusetts, in the very farmhouse where the 1892 double homicide took place.
Each room has been maintained in painstaking detail and guests dine on the same foods the Bordens ate. Because this business is also considered a museum guests can see framed crime scene photos on the walls and plaster replicas of the Borden's shattered skulls in the china cabinet. In many ways this is a most unusual vacation experience.
One hour day tours run $15 while an overnight stay costs $250. An optional nightly seance is available for $10. Guests seeking evidence of possible paranormal activity can sign up for the HD 24hr Ghost Cam which, for $7.99/mo, can be downloaded onto a laptop, tablet or phone (or as the staff at the Bed & Breakfast call them "modern witchery").
Outrageous? Maybe. Profitable? Definitely. This one of a kind business brings in over a half million dollars a year.
Is there a gift shop? Oh my yes. Toy axes are a top seller as are t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs and even golf balls (which bear the legend 'keep whacking'). Visitors who enjoyed the complimentary axe shaped sugar cookies (edged in raspberry filling) can purchase a $5 axe shaped cookie cutter so that they may recreate the snack at home.
Because nothing seems to be sacred in Fall River, guest frequently visit the local cemetery to see where the entire Borden family rests in peace.
Each year on the anniversary of the murders, staff, guests and townspeople of Fall River stage a reenactment of the crime. Costumes are worn, lines are read and the 'victims' are carefully painted with fake blood to exactly mimic the original wounds. Indeed the participants seem to crave as real an experience as possible without being held legally accountable for the crime or receiving actual hatchet blows to the head.
Nothing about the annual re-creation suggests a desire to finally solve the case. The tradition seems to merely celebrate the grisly murders of two human beings.
It is difficult to say which group is more troubling: the staff profiting from the tragedy or the 180,000+ yearly visitors who find the experience fun.
Most intriguing of all may be the fact that we seem to want Lizzie Borden to be guilty. Even in her jump rope rhyme we find the need to exaggerate what was an already savage event: the hatchet becomes an axe. The 18 blows become 40.
Which idea fascinates us more: that a former Sunday School teacher could have successfully gotten away with the murders or that a woman had the potential to commit them at all?
For many readers the most urgent question may be: How can I book a room there?
That one I can answer. You call (508) 675-7333.
© 2014 Amie Ryan