The Lizzie Borden House: What Happened Here?

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Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel on Wikimedia Commons

Located at Fall River, Massachusetts, the presuming petite and unassuming Victorian house named the Lizzie Borden House has a dark secret. This tiny house painted in hues of green is currently a popular bed and breakfast destination amongst paranormal junkies and ghost hunters due to its known past as a cold-hearted gruesome crime scene.

Fall River is known for its Portuguese culture, 19th century textile mills and Battleship Cove which holds the world’s largest collection of WW2 naval vessels. Their most popular attraction, however, would be the Lizzie Borden House.

The story takes place in the 1800s and follows its previous occupants – the Borden family which consisted of Andrew Jackson Borden, the father; Abby Borden, the stepmother; Emma and Lizzie Borden, the daughters of Andrew; with addition to Bridget Sullivan, the maid.

Story of the Lizzie Borden House

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Photo by dbking on Wikimedia Commons

On the 4th of August 1892, Andrew Borden and Abby Borden were found in their home, brutally murdered with an axe. Abby Borden had 18 strikes and is believed to be killed when she was cleaning the guest room. Andrew Borden slept on the couch when the perpetrator killed him with 11 strikes from the axe. Bridget Sullivan was washing the windows when Lizzie yelled “Maggie, come down! Come down quick; Father’s dead; Somebody came in and killed him.” The body of Andrew Borden was beyond recognition.

Policemen at the crime scene stated that the murder looked like an inside job as they found no signs of forced entry into the house. During the time of murder, Lizzie was the only one at home while Bridget the maid was outside the house washing the windows. She claimed that she did not hear any sounds when her stepmother was struck by the axe multiple times. Another suspicious account was that three days after the murders, Lizzie’s friend saw Lizzie burning a dress in a kitchen fire that had “old paint” on it. People believe that the murder weapon was an axe. However, the murder weapon and bloodied clothes never emerged.

The incident got so famous that there is even an infamous rhyme created about the Lizzie Borden House:

Lizzie Borden took an axe,

And gave her mother forty whacks;

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.

Andrew Borden now is dead,

Lizzie hit him on the head;

Up in heaven he will sing,

In the gallows she will swing.

The rhyme took a play on the incident and was more popular than the facts of what really went down. Some of the suspects for the murder are Emma Borden, John V. Morse, and Bridget Sullivan, the maid. But the most famous suspect was Lizzie Borden herself.

Lizzie Borden

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Lizzie Borden was born on 19th July, 1860 and lost her birth mother at the age of 2. As a result, Emma and Lizzie Borden has a close relationship with Emma acting as a friend and a mother to Lizzie. Despite the loss, Andrew Borden remarried to Abby Borden 2 years later. Regardless, Lizzie Borden was born into a rich household as her father was the President of a major Bank in Fall Rivers. She had led the life of a high society debutante and gained leadership roles due to her father’s wealth. Lizzie participated in multiple clubs and regularly goes to church. However, even with the lavish lifestyle, there were rumours that the relationship between Lizzie and Abby was tense. Lizzie believed that her stepmother only married her father for his wealth.

The police found out that Lizzie Borden’s alibis were odd and inconsistent. For example, 15 minutes before Andrew Borden’s death, Lizzie claimed that she had gone to the backyard barn to look for lead sinkers and eating pears as a preparation for an upcoming fishing excursion. However, the police didn’t find footprints on the dusty floors of the loft. In addition, the blazing hot conditions in the barn raised suspicions in the policemen as they claimed that no one would willingly stay inside due to the heat. Despite Lizzie’s confusing testimony, the police overlooked those and didn’t thoroughly investigate her. Eventually, she was tried for the murders. However, the jury came to the verdict that she was not guilty as they lack evidence. Hence, it resulted in the murder becoming unsolved.

Theories

With the case unsolved, theories around the world emerged on why she had murdered Andrew and Abby Borden.

  1. Many believe that Lizzie Borden committed the crime to inherit her father’s wealth due to the simple reason – greed.
  2. Lizzie and Emma Borden had a tense relationship with their stepmother – Abby Borden.
  3. Andrew sexually abused Lizzie. As an act of revenge and punishment, she killed him. Lizzie killed Abby Borden as well because she knew about the incest but did nothing to stop it or blamed Lizzie instead.

Present Day

The story of the murders became a tale passed down generations through nursery rhymes, movies and word of mouth. The Lizzie Borden House has become a hotspot for travellers around the world who wants to look at the crime scene where the murder of Andrew Borden and Abby Borden had taken place. Seemingly a huge business opportunity, Martha McGinn, the current owner of the Lizzie Borden House had converted it into a bed & breakfast since 1996 after inheriting it from her grandparents who had purchased the house in 1948. If you are brave enough to stay in the house for a night or two, you can make your reservations here.

Sightings / Experiences

  • Previous guests of the Lizzie Borden bed & breakfast had experienced fire alarms that went off at 3 am when they were trying to sleep. Employees mentioned that this occurrence happens once every few months around 3 am.
  • Ghost detector equipment started giving out high frequencies when guests are in the crime scene, especially at the spot where both Andrew Borden and Abby Borden were murdered.
  • Guests that had stayed in the Lizzie Borden House had captured ghostly sightings on mirrors using cameras both digital and polaroid.  

Activities In The House

*All currencies are in USD

Paranormal Night

There are various paranormal events for guests such as the “Paranormal Night”. The event starts from 6.30 pm to 11.00 pm. It costs $50.00 with refreshments served to its participants and operates at a first come first serve basis of 20 slots per event. Facilitators will give participants ghost hunting equipment for their own exploration and instructions on how to operate them.

The Lizzie Borden House Tour

If you’ll like to fully experience the Lizzie Borden house and go in-depth with the history of the murders, participate in the house tours! Tours are available 7 days a week from 10 am to 3 pm unless it is Thanksgiving or Christmas. The house tour will be bringing guests through the crime scenes and locations with high paranormal activities and the duration of the tour is approximately 50 minutes. No reservations are required unless guests comes in huge groups (e.g. 10 people or more). Participants that would have to arrive at Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast 15 minutes before the allocated time. Guests that are staying in the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast will be receiving a longer and more immersed complimentary tour of the house that is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes long. Photography is allowed during the tours but video recordings are strictly not allowed.

Ticket prices for the house tour are as of below:

  • Adults: $20
  • Seniors above age 60 and college students with IDs: $18
  • Children of ages 7 to 15: $15
  • Children of ages 6 and below: Free

Tickets are purchased in the Barn (Gift Shop) where Lizzie had claimed to be looking for lead sinkers.

Night Tours

The Lizzie Borden House also features a creepier and chilling version of the house tours – night tours. This special event only happens on Monday and/or Tuesday nights and varies from months to months. Night tours will be led by candle lights as the tour guides bring guests through the stories of the murders. Tours begin at 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm. Tickets cost $35 per pax and are purchased online and claimed at the barn.

Maplecroft House

Another related site that supernatural fanatics can explore is the Maplecroft House where Lizzie Borden resides following the murder. The property is also currently owned by the owners of Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, making it convenient for travellers. To keep up with the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, you can follow their official Facebook page for further updates.

Even though the main suspect of the murder is Lizzie Borden, no one truly knows who killed Andrew Borden and Abby Borden on the 4th of August 1892. Regardless of the facts, the house is named after Lizzie Borden herself as she is the most probable suspect and murderer to all onlookers.

Do you think Lizzie Borden killed her father and step-mother? Leave your opinions in the comments section below.

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