Through the Fire Unscathed

Maplecroft: Mansion of Mystery #2

The casual visitor to Maplecroft may miss the tiny figure on the fire screen of Lizzie Borden’s back bedroom on the second floor addition. This addition over the back porch was constructed in 1908, after Emma had left Maplecroft forever. In the surround of the fireplace opening of the raised-hearth in the corner, sits a cunning cast iron salamander with a very satisfied little face. Although a high school drop-out, Lizzie was very well-read. Did she know the legend of the salamander when she chose her furnishings? The salamander today is the logo mascot for asbestos workers everywhere, and throughout ancient Greek myth , was the only animal which could go through the fire unscathed. This is partly true, as salamanders exude a milky substance when exposed to high temperatures, and are rendered, at least briefly, impervious to flame. This phenomenon was observed over the ages as salamanders like to hide in logs, and when a fire was ignited, they would be seen scampering out of the flames triumphantly.

It’s fun to think maybe Lizzie may have been leaving a message, as she did , in fact, go through the “fire” and did not get burned in her acquittal on all charges. Lucky little salamander. . . .

The photos of the brick fireplace are from 2021 and 1980s.

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