A Visit to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast | Fall River, MA

Depending on when and where you grew up, you might recognize this little kid’s rhyme about the infamous Lizzie Borden:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

The rhyme is based on the true life murder of Lizzie’s father, Andrew Borden, and Lizzie’s stepmother, Abby Borden on August 4, 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts. Always looking for something different to do, we ventured off for to the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast for an overnight trip in 2008. To set the stage, we watched “The Blair Witch Project” beforehand and we were fully prepared to tell spooky stories to not only scare us, but also to our son and his friend. When we arrived, we were a little early so we explored the small town and even stopped by the cemetery where Lizzie is buried near her family.

From what was reported, Mr. Borden went into town that morning to visit the bank, etc. He returned home about 10:45 am and about 1/2 hour later, Lizzie discovered his body slumped over on a couch in the downstairs sitting room. The Borden’s maid, Bridget Sullivan, stated that she was lying down in her room at about 11 am when she heard Lizzie call to her saying someone had killed her father. A short while later while the family doctor and neighbors were caring for Lizzie, Bridget Sullivan discovered Abby Borden in the guest bedroom upstairs. Both Abby and Andrew had been killed by crushing blows to their skulls from a hatchet. Based on the evidence available at the time, Lizzie was arrested and jailed on August 11, 1892 despite the fact that no murder weapon was ever found. On June 20, 1893 Lizzie was acquitted. Emma and Lizzie moved out of the home and into a home they called “Maplecroft,” also in Fall River. Lizzie was a strong woman to live in the town where everyone knew who she was and was convinced that she had indeed killed her parents. She never married and associated herself with charismatic theatre people. This eventually caused a falling out with the two Borden sisters and Emma moved out in 1905. Lizzie died of pneumonia on June 1, 1927 in Fall River and a mere nine days later Emma died of chronic nephritis in Newmarket, NH where she moved to get away from the notoriety of her family’s name.

After lunch, we returned to the bed and breakfast as we were excited about taking the tour included with our accommodations. We were able to walk around and look at the home, which is furnished exactly how the home once was according to family photographs. Lizzie and Emma, her sister, had put all of their furnishings in storage and when a flood occurred, all of their property was destroyed. The owners of the bed and breakfast, both prior and current owners, have worked extremely hard to make the home look like it did when the Bordens were living there.

Staying in the actual home where these murders occurred was not enough for me. No, I wanted to stay in the John V. Morse room as this was the room where Lizzie’s stepmother, Abby, was discovered. This room is named after John Morse who was the brother of Emma and Lizzie’s mother, Sarah. Beautiful antique furniture fill this room and with four of us in the room, they accommodated us with cots for the boys. Here we have a member of our party reenacting the murder scene in the exact spot where Abby Borden was found the morning of August 4th. I took this picture coming up the stairs because I thought it was interesting with so many people in the home after the murder that no one would have noticed Mrs. Borden earlier, especially anyone going up the stairs to one of the multiple bedrooms on this floor.

As you walk up the stairs you will see this sign, which shows the playful sense of humor that the current owners have. The tour commenced and besides our group of four consisting of the world’s biggest skeptic, two boys who couldn’t stop laughing, and someone who tries to keep their mind open to all possible explanations (that would be me), there were a few other people staying that night at the B&B. We toured each of the rooms from Emma and Lizzie’s rooms to the John V. Morse room, and Abby and Andrew’s rooms, with these rooms all occupying the second floor. Apparently, if you stay in Andrew Borden’s room it is suggested that you bring a cigar and change to leave out on his dresser as he still feels like it is his home and doesn’t like strangers in his house, but these things will appease him. With three more rooms on the third floor, including Bridget Sullivan’s room, we were told about the spirits of children from next door that supposedly occupy this space and they leave the toys out by the toy chest for them.

Our tour took us downstairs to the basement where I took this photo. According to the tour guide, you can see a face on that wall behind the bowl. Do you see it? Basements in general have a high amount of creepiness to me so this place was no different. I just felt an overwhelming sadness in the house and I don’t know if that’s because I felt anything other than empathy for Lizzie and her family.

Finally, the tour concluded in the same downstairs sitting room where Andrew Borden was found murdered. Although not gory or outright scary, the story of what happened is creepy. Hearing about what occurred in the house while you are there is completely different then reading the story at home. We walked around on our looking at pictures and speaking with the employee who gave us the tour until it was time for bed. Strangely enough, I had no hesitation about going to sleep that night and I slept extraordinarily well. Our son slept on a cot at the foot of our bed and his friend slept on a cot on the spot where Abby was murdered. I know — cruel, but we thought it was funny, especially since we knew he hadn’t been paying attention enough during the tour to hear that part. The next morning he kept asking who was touching him during the night. Naturally, I assumed my husband or son had been poking him or tapping him to get him scared and I played along with it and said it wasn’t us. It wasn’t until a few days later when we were back at home that I learned that neither my husband or son had done anything. That’s when the creepy factor hit an all time high for me!

Why would anyone want to stay in a home where a murder occurred? Why would anyone stay in a home that is possibly haunted? Why not? Life is so short and if you haven’t compiled your bucket list of things you want to do before you die, you better get started. I may never get to stay in another house like the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast again, but I’m glad that I had the chance at least once in my life. I recommend this experience to anyone in the New England area looking for a quick getaway and are interested in trying something completely different. Room rates start at $150/night and go up to $250/night, depending on the room and time of year. Check out the website for more details on Lizzie Borden and the B&B and get your paranormal gear ready for a night you’ll always remember.

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