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Paranormal Travel: The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast

Updated on July 17, 2014
Front entrance to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast.
Front entrance to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast.

When you hear the name "Lizzie Borden," what comes to your mind? Could it be a nursey rhyme that states: "Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one?" Could it be the unsolved murders of her father, Andrew, and her step-mother, Abby, in 1892? Or could it be the ghosts that haunts the home of Lizzie Borden at 92 Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts?

The story of the Borden murders is well-known. On August 4, 1892, the bloodied bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden were discovered. Andrew was laying on the couch in the living room where he received ten to eleven violent blows to the head while he slept. On the second floor in guest bedroom, Abby's body laid on the floor after receiving nineteen blows after being attacked from behind. In both situations, the murder weapon was the same: a hatchet! Though there were other suspects (such as John Morris, Lizzie's Uncle), it was Lizzie who became the focus of the investigation. On August 11, 1892, Lizzie was arrested for the double murders. The trial began on June of 1893 in New Bedford, with it becoming a media sensation that was only equal to the OJ Simpson murder trial. On June 20 of that year, Lizzie was acquitted of all charges. After the trial, Lizzie and her sister, Emma, moved to French Street in Fall River to a new home they would call Maplecroft. She would live there until her death from pneumonia on June 1, 1927 at the age of 66. However, the story does not end here.

The John V. Morse Room, where I stayed the first time I visited.
The John V. Morse Room, where I stayed the first time I visited.

Overnight with the Ghost

In 1996, the Borden House was converted into a bed & breakfast. At first, guests were drawn to the location because of the murders, but over the years it gave way to the ghosts. Today, the location is more known for restless spirits than it's history, partially due to the house's paranormal side being featured on various television shows, including Unsolved Mysteries, MonsterQuest, Ghost Hunters, and Ghost Adventures. Voices, footsteps, apparitions, objects being moved, and people being touched have been reported and documented by guests and staff alike. These activities have become the location's main draw for many tourists.

In fact, this was the reason my friends and I spent a night at the Borden House on two separate occasions. Sure, we knew the story of the Borden murders, but we had more interest in experiencing something paranormal. The first stay there was four years. That night, my friend Steve and I stayed in the John V. Morse Room, which is also known as the "murder room." That's right! My first time there and I stayed in the room where Abby was killed. While I had some reservations about sleeping in that room, I successfully stayed overnight...though I did cover the mirror with a blanket. Despite my interest in the paranormal, I did not do an investigation that night.

The second time I stayed at the Bed & Breakfast was two years ago, and with me were several close friends. Unfortunately, I was not able to stay in the John V. Morse Room, but instead rented the Bridget Sullivan Room. With the help of my friends, we rented every room on the third floor, which allowed us to do a proper of paranormal investigation. In terms of gathering evidence, it turned out to be a fruitful night.

However, if you are a fan of the numerous paranormal television shows or surfed ghost articles on the web, you are very well aware of the spooky happenings here. Besides the paranormal aspect, what is it really like to stay at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast?

230 2nd Street, Fall River, Massachusetts:
230 2nd St, Fall River, MA 02721, USA

get directions

While the historic address is 92 Second Street, the proper address for the House is 230 Second Street. You will need it to find this place!

Paranormal Travel

I. Cost

First, how much of a dent will your wallet have suffered staying overnight at the Borden House? The cost of the rooms fluctuates depending on what room and what time of year. The most high demand room, the John V. Morse Room, will cost you $250 from the months of April to October and $225 from November to March. The cheaper rooms will be on the third floor, such as the Bridget Sullivan Room, that will cost $175 from April to October and $150 the rest of the year. So, how does this compare to other haunted Bed & Breakfasts?

The Captain Grant's, 1754 in Preston, Connecticut will run you from a low of $99 to a high of $179. The Inn at Duck Creeke in Wellfleet, Massachusetts has a rate that ranges from $95 to $165. Overall, renting a single room at the Borden House will cost more, but what about renting out the entire house for a paranormal investigation? You can do that for $1,500, but compared that to another haunted B & B, Whitehall Mansion in Mystic, Connecticut. It has a package deal that allows for the renting of the entire location that ranges in price from $599 to $899. So, what you pay for at the Borden House is it's notorious history and paranormal fame. If your desire is to experience ghostly activities, there are cheaper alternatives.

II. Travel & Parking

From Providence, you will be traveling mostly on I-195 to Fall River; from Boston you will mostly travel on the MA- 24. It is best to travel during off-peak hours to save you time from traffic congestion, especially when passing through Boston. However, navigating through Fall River, with it's numerous roads, one ways, and twist and turns, can become very challenging. A GPS can help, but make sure your maps are updated since there has been a lot of road construction going on that often results in new roads no being recognized.

Another challenge is parking. The Borden House has parking in the back, but it is not a huge lot. Our first time here the parking was not too much of an issue since many of the guest arrived in carpools, but the second time we were not so lucky. We had to navigate into tight spots, and some even had to park behind others and block them in. The Bed & Breakfast has eight rooms, so there is the possibility of eight sets of guest with eight (or more) cars, resulting in some major parking problems. From what I remember, street parking was allowed which can help the situation.

III. The Layout & Cleanliness

The owners of the B & B took great care to recreate the layout of the house as it would have looked like back in 1892, and it shows. Whether it is the furniture, the tables, lamps, and the various other accessories, the place gives the illusion that you have traveled back in time to that dreadful moment in history. There are some modern amenities, such as Wi-Fi, but they are limited as to not ruin the late 19th century vibe. The best room in the house is the John V. Morse Room, with it's bright colors, appealing bedroom furniture, and vintage feel; the Bridget Sullivan Room, while spacious, is the least desired room due to it's dull presentation and lighting. Both times that I stayed there, it was winter, but I found the place to be well-heated and noticed no draft issues. The beds I slept on were comfortable, though maybe not as soft as most mainstream mattresses due to it's vintage style. There are bathrooms with good water pressure in the showers, but you will share them with other guest. An addition note, the house resides in a dense urban area, so at times you can hear traffic and people, but I did not find it as a major distraction for sleep (or EVP session).

In terms of cleanliness, the place is very well kept. When we arrived, the rooms were prepared, supplied, and tidy. Whether it was the kitchen or the dining room, the floors were vacuumed and the tables wiped clean. My friends and I saw no bugs or broken items. In fact, we often complimented on how good everything looked. In other words, the staff here takes great care of the place.

When there, I noticed a black cat running around. No, this was not a phantom, but the resident cat called Max. The cat was very friendly and took a liking to my friend Steve. While I saw the cat on the first floor, I never saw him go to the other floors. Despite the presences of this adorable feline, I never noticed any fur on the furniture or any cat smells since the staff makes sure there are no feline messes. However, if you are highly allergic to cats, you need to be aware of Max.

IV. The Staff

In both our trips, we came across several members of the staff. Lee-Ann, who purchased the Bed & Breakfast in 2004, is a hard worker, very friendly, and takes pride in her works there. Though she gets busy, she will answer any questions and takes time to talk with her guests. On my first visit, I got to meet a woman named Shelly, who was a house guide for the night. She was very friendly, engaging, and knowledgeable on the historical aspect of the house. In fact, after one night with her, you will know every aspect of the case and learn many new facts concerning it. When it comes to the paranormal side, she maintains a skeptical but open-minded attitude, and will answer any paranormal based questions. My friend Steve and I both agreed that she made our first trip a fantastic one!

On the second trip, we had a woman named Eleanor as a the house guide. While Shelly favors the historical route of the property, Eleanor turns more towards the paranormal aspect. You may have even seen her on the recent episode of Ghost Adventures in which she actually joined Zak and his crew for their investigation. While this may be a bonus for those seeking thrills in the paranormal, I personally did not find her to be personal, helpful, or entertaining. While she answered questions, she was not engaging with the guests. While Shelly stayed in the house overnight, Eleanor eventually left us alone in the house for the night. Her leaving did not bother my friends or myself, for we enjoyed ourselves more with her not there. The next person we met on the second trip was a psychic medium named Liz, who often comes to the Borden House to hold a séance for the guest (she also appeared on Ghost Adventures). When she held her séance, everyone was allowed to watch, but if you were to participate in the actual séance you had to pay about twenty dollars per person. Liz encouraged the use of voice recorders and cameras during the séance, so she was confident enough in her abilities to allow this. I am skeptical when it comes to mediums, but her séance left me with an open mind.

V. The Breakfast

The first time my friend Steve and I went to the house, we were told that the breakfast there was to "die for" ... that was definitely an overstatement. The breakfast on both trips consist of flapjacks, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, and fruit. While good to eat, I would never call it a breakfast to "die for"... I could easily cook just as good or even better. Although it is a fine breakfast with no need to go to a restaurant, it is just a plain breakfast.

On our second visit, we captured an odd white light.
On our second visit, we captured an odd white light.

VI. Chances of Witnessing the Paranormal

OK, so you paid for the room, traveled the twisting roads of Fall River, and settled in for the night... so what are the chances of paranormal events? This is a difficult question to answer, since what is considered "paranormal" is subjective. An example is that while I do not consider "orbs" to be paranormal, others insist on it. There is also the fact that the paranormal is considered a pseudo-science or silly wishful thinking by many, so when I say what the chances are for witnessing the paranormal, it is just my opinion. Another variable is that paranormal activity does not act on command:one night may be dull while another night is very active.

From my personal experience, if you are using paranormal tools such as voice recorders and ghost boxes, the chances of catching interesting evidence is high at the Borden House. In our second trip, my friends and I captured a lot of evidence. We had clear EVPs, ghost box responses, and captured on a photo an odd white light in the Bridget Sullivan Room. I have investigated a lot of locations, and in my opinion the Borden House ranks in the top five of most evidence collected.

However, if you do not have equipment, your ability to experience the paranormal is reduced a lot. All you really get there is a sense of being watched, which can lead to very uncomfortable feelings that will help develop paranoia. Along with the dark playing tricks on one's eyes and the spooky stories that surround the place, you may begin to think you are seeing apparitions. On my first visit, when staying in the John V. Morse Room, I woke up about 2 a.m. and looked into the nearby mirror. When I did, I thought I saw a woman in that mirror, but I was wrong. In the room is the dress that Elizabeth Montgomery wore for the 1975 movie, The Legend of Lizzie Borden. Due to me getting psyched about the ghost stories (along with the dark), both my eyes and mind played a trick on me that made me believe there was a woman standing in the mirror. In reality, it was just a reflection from the dress (this is why I placed a blanket over the mirror). Apparitions, objects moving, or hearing voices will be rare and you will unlikely experience such paranormal events (but it should be noted, that is very common for most places).

Final Thought

In one's paranormal travels, is it worth going to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast? This question has a simple answer: Yes! In terms of a bed & breakfast, the staff is friendly, but the rates are expensive. The place is difficult to find, and, while and the breakfast is good, it's nothing special. The history is a huge selling point, due to the staff doing a convincing job of maintaining the house's 1892 authenticity. Unless you are satisfied with just creepy feelings, you will need equipment such as recorders to experience the full paranormal effect of the place. I highly recommend going there.

What would draw you into visiting the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast?

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