It’s always fun to find just the right thing to add years to the Borden house. Co-owner LeeAnn Wilber haunts the antique shops and auctions on a quest to find just the right object to bring the 1890s feel to the house on Second Street. Here are some new finds which will greet you on your next visit to Lizzie’s home. The dead pigeons and pears print in the “Death in the Dining Room” genre is typical Victorian decor and is especially fitting for the Borden dining room for those who know the significance of pears and pigeons! The kitchen refrigerator has received a face lift in the form of oak panels to evoke the old ice box once found at the house in the sink room. Lizzie loved blue and pansies and this charming Eastlake footstool is just the ticket for Lizzie’s own room. Lizzie’s room also boasts a wonderful Sailor’s Valentine made of shells on the south wall. Rhode Island Antique Center in Pawtucket was the place to unearth a delightful summer fireplace screen for the sitting room. In the Eastlake, ebonized and gilded style, the canvas is hand – painted with blue summer blooms. Little touches can add so much age and charm to period settings.
You can’t miss the changes over the past 3 weeks on Second Street. All the windows of #92 have been draped with heavy plastic, making the view from inside the house through the windows very eerie. Much scraping and peeling have left the yard deep in paint flakes as Rhino Shield Paint Co. have stripped the clapboards down to the wood, patched and primed the surface for the final coat which has a lifetime guarantee. The house will be promoted by the company as an example of their workmanship.
After the scorching temps of Wednesday, the house got a final touch-up yesterday when any crackling in the primer was scraped away and re-primed. Color coming soon! The front door will finally receive its original two-toned scheme which will be fun to see. Two windows (kitchen and bath on the first floor) have been completely replaced and beautifully framed in wood surrounds. Getting ready for the busy summer season!
(front door, 1892 with two shades)
Hard to believe that May will top the month of April as a busy month at #92. On May 4th the Travel Channel will be returning for the third time since April to film footage for another program which will feature haunted hotels and B&B’s. The same cast from April will be portraying Lizzie, Abby, and Andrew Borden (LeeAnn Wilber, Shelley Dziedzic, & Dan LeLievre). The exterior of the house is undergoing extensive scraping and repainting so the cameras will roll on the inside.
The Discovery Channel will be shooting at the house in two weeks, and will be bringing a full cast of actors to play the key parts in the story. This upcoming Fall season promises to be full of Lizzie Borden and the Fall River Tragedy.
The pansies are in bloom, the pear tree is laden with blossoms which will yield plenty of pears in August, and a few new touches have been added around the house, bringing a feeling of 1892. An 1880’s silver caster set now has pride of place in the diningroom, there’s a new globe lamp on the piano, a beautiful oil painting of roses by a local artist, painted in 1897 hanging in the parlor, and Mr. Borden has a walnut Eastlake mirror in his bedroom. Over the parlor sofa, a display of Victorian memorials adds decades to the room decor and features a shadowbox of handmade flowers and a framed memorial of a cross and flowers composed entirely of hair, a popular activity from 1860s-1880s.
Across the street, the new court house is preparing to open. All along the west side of Second Street, parking places have been defined. Lots of changes are afoot for the busy season at #92.
Lots of excitement at #92 this week as the house is stripped back to the raw wood on the clapboards. For the first time we see the original color of the house which was called “drab”, a grey-olive color. Since 1996 the house has been tan under McGinn ownership during the opening years of the B&B , and a strong green which was applied in 2004 under new ownership. The new treatment, called “rhino paint” comes with a lifetime guarantee and is advertised as the toughest paint around. The crew is doing a great job of prep work and the glimpse of the raw wood while the paint is completely removed offers some detail as to the way things are put together. The side entry porch overhang was not original to the house and was added after the 1892 murders. The new paint color will more accurately match the drab paint color of 1892. The darker trim paint currently on the house was a very close match to the 1892 color.
Emma and Lizzie have a stocking at the mantel in the sitting room for Christmas. #92 Second Street was a popular stop on last weekend’s Victorian home tour sponsored by the Preservation Society of Fall River.
It’s been a rough winter in Fall River with plenty of ice and snow as the familiar name in the photo below will testify.
But work on the new court house continues slowly. The building looms over South Main Street and the back of the building dominates Second Street just across from the Borden house. At one time the twin spires of St. Anne’s and the single steeple of St. Mary’s were the landmarks easily spotted from the Braga Bridge top-now the court house steals all the thunder.
Rick Geary has spent a good many years as illustrator and cartoonist, capturing on paper some pretty grisly tales from the corridors of dark history. The Borden case caught his fancy and was immortalized as a graphic book, some years ago. It is a must-have for fans of the case and is available on Amazon for as little as five dollars.
Mr. Geary also produced a charming paper cutout sheet of the house on Second Street, which was, for a time available for sale at #92. It is not now so readily available. Once selling for $1.95, the cardstock cutout, which when colored and assembled is a strikingly good facsimile of the house, is now sought after by Bordenites. If readers know where it might be purchased- send us a comment!
Visit Rick Geary’s website at http://www.rickgeary.com/
Plans are being made to install a 24 hour webcam at the scenes of the crimes in the sitting room and guest bedroom at the Borden house on Second Street. Interested viewers at home could then check in at leisure to see what was transpiring at any time of day or night in the sitting room, and the guest bedroom when not occupied by overnight guests. Followers of the paranormal are particularly excited by this prospect. The date when this experiment goes into effect has not yet been announced.
It is wonderful to revisit the first days of the the Lizzie Borden B&B via Youtube, only weeks after it opened on August 4, 1995. All of the original staff are there including George Quigley, brother of present cook, Dave Quigley, owners Ron Evans and Martha McGinn, and day manager Rochelle Pettenuti who painted the portraits of the Borden clan which still hang in the rooms on the second and third floor. It was Ron Evans who had the vision and passion to open the house to the public as a museum and bed and breakfast. Sadly, he lived only a very short time afterward and would not know how very successful his dream would become. The house had just been repainted in a tan and brown color scheme, and furnished as closely as possible to the house as it was in 1892.
During the month of December #92 has been closed down for renovations. All three floors have enjoyed repairs to wallpaper, moldings, woodwork and trim and a fresh coat of ivory paint. When the paintwork was scraped down to the wood, the color proved to be a warm ivory-not white. Another great improvement is the new shade of cream in the bathroom of the Abby and Andrew suite on the second floor- replacing what could only be remembered as a bileous Pepto Bismol Pink!
Some may miss the oozing red stain on the third floor chimney in the Knowlton room- but most will get a better night’s sleep for its absence which was reminiscent of dripping blood and very unsettling. The painting crew from Newport, experienced in refreshing historic homes has done a great job and the old house never looked better!
When it came time to choose the color to paint the Borden house after the sale to the current owners, there was much discussion as to what shade to select. Newspaper descriptions and other sources cite the house color as “drab”- a popular Victorian catch-all term for a gray-brown-olive nondescript color. Army khaki fatigue uniforms may come close to the color. The current shade of green on the house is very snappy, but a little greener than was probably found in 1892. However, if you have a good look at the underside of the floorboards in the cellar of the house, a very convincing drab shade can still be seen which is probably the right shade. The trim was said to be painted a darker shade of the same color.
In other local news, the Fall River Herald and the Fall River Historical Society have pooled efforts to create a Remembering Fall River blog for natives to share photos and memories of the fine old city over the years. Best wishes on this effort-it’s time Fall Riverites sang their own praises when others of us “aliens” have enjoyed blogging about the Spindle City for a long time!!
Apparently this black cat is not afraid of hatchets or chloroform. As the legend goes, Lizzie may have tried either on Abby Borden’s kitten. Max, the sleek jet black kitty who lives in Dr. Kelly’s house next door, makes frequent trips to visit the Borden barn and welcomes visitors and overnight guests at the house. From time to time Max startles the staff by creeping stealthily into the cellar and meowing plaintively.
December will usher in exciting new improvements at #92. All of the moldings, doors and trim will be carefully sanded and repainted by restoration professionals during the first week of the month, period lighting fixtures have been ordered for the downstairs rooms, and Second Street will once again be on Fall River’s Christmas House Tour!