Borden House Interiors
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.
Lizzie’s has another brand new sign created by Ray who now works in the gift shop. The hatchet is made of a waterproof foam material.
A new green velvet diamond-tufted Victorian settee has pride of place on the third floor. Bridget would have loved it.
Lizzie’s piano gets a new globe lamp.
The pansies are blooming, the grass is greening, and the Borden house is getting a new lick of paint this week. The Travel Channel returns next week to film a new -for-autumn bed and breakfast program, and April 15th will see the Return of the Mutton Eaters, the armchair Bordenian sleuths who gather once a year to chase the cold trail of the 1892 crime. This year the group will have the annual banquet at the Quequechan Club on North Main since the old Abbey Grille is no more.
The pace will be hectic with many venues to visit and the focus this year set on Fall River and Swansea. Experiments in the house, presentation of new information found over the year , and special guests are part of the annual endeavors. April will be a very bizzie Lizzie month.
If we could only go back to August 4, 1892 in a time machine, there are plenty of places in #92 Second Street one would wish to be on that fateful day. Borden neighbor, Addie Churchill, was first on the scene after being attracted to the spectacle of Bridget Sullivan racing up and down the Borden driveway. Lizzie’s cool quip,
“Oh do come over Mrs. Churchill, someone has killed father”-
or words to that effect have resounded down the century as being somewhat strange under the circumstances. Addie enters the house and gets the story from Lizzie, who is sitting in the turn of the lower steps of the back stairs.
(Prelim.) Addie Churchill
Q. What did you do or say?
A. I opened one of the windows and said “Lizzie, what is the matter?”
Q. Go right on now,
A. She said “O, Mrs. Churchill, do come over; somebody has killed father.”
Q. Go right on, if you please.
A. I closed the window, and went directly through my house out the front door, and went over to her house, and opened the screen door, and went in. Then she sat on the second stair at the right of the screen door, the back stairs.
Q. The stairs, as I remember the plan, came down, the foot of the stairs is very near the back door?
A. Just as the right of the door as you go in.
Q. She was sitting then opposite where she had been standing?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. What happened then?
A. I put my hand on her arm, and said “O, Lizzie”, I said “Where is your father”? She said “in the sitting room”. I said “where were you when it happened”? She said she went to the barn to get a piece of iron, and came back, heard a distressed noise, and came in, and found the screen door open.
Can you picture her there?
It’s been a busy few weeks on Second Street with the filming of a documentary and a visit by the Travel Channel. The Travel Channel returns in April to shoot footage for a new program, America B&Bs which will showcase bed and breakfasts that will be visited and rated by two couples who will check in as regular guests and experience the property and visit attractions and restaurants in the city. Producer and camera crew will be spending the night as well. #92 is getting ready for its close-up!
Youtube has a release of the 2008 episode of History Channel’s Monsterquest which was filmed at the house in January. The usual favorite topics are included, the “children in the well” tale of the disturbed Mrs. Ladowick Borden who lived next door and threw 3 children in the cistern (only 2 are mentioned here), the roving rocker in Bridget’s bedroom, and the ghost of “Michael” in the chimney room on the third floor. This episode also marked the last appearance of Ed Thibault as Andrew Borden. Ed, one of the very early Borden Case scholars, worked at the Borden house for many years and gave lectures far and wide to schools and civic groups. He is now retired from the “LizBiz” although his wife Eleanor is often seen in her capacity as Saturday night tour guide for the house. House co-owner Lee Ann Wilber plays Lizzie in the Monsterquest production, with Shelley Dziedzic as Abby Borden.
(still photography from Monsterquest filming session, January 2008)
All four episode segments are available on Youtube.
Photos from last Thursday’s filming. The new Mr. Borden could double as Abraham Lincoln. A few are rather eerie!
Bridget Sullivan: Molly O’Brien
Lizzie Borden: Lee Ann Wilber
Mr. Borden: Dan LeLievre
Mrs. Borden: Shelley Dziedzic
The Herald had this coverage today on the March 11th filming session at #92. The finished product will air sometime in the first quarter of 2011. The exact date will be posted here as soon as it is known.
Recently the crew from the paranormal TV web site http://www.30oddminutes.com/ (which films uncut and unedited) came to check out the Borden house. The young host is particularly charming and the thirty-odd minute session is a good representation of what most paranormal crews attempt during their investigations in the house. Have a look at http://www.blip.tv/file/3291682 Episode 27 Live at Lizzie Borden’s.
Here is the site teaser for the episode:
“In Episode 27 we come to you “Live” from the haunted Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, Massachusetts. Okay, not totally “live” because we filmed the episode about a week before it aired. Nobody does a documentary like the 30 Odd Minutes crew! And Lizzie Borden is no different. Just like our studio show we do the whole thing live, straight-through, in one take. You get a tour of the house, learn about some of the history, hear from the manager, Lee Ann, and learn from our special guests: EVP specialist, Mike Markowicz, and the host of Spooky Southcoast Radio, Tim Weisberg. You just don’t know what will happen during this show. Do we uncover evidence of the paranormal or just a prank? Tune in to find out! If the truth is out there… 30 Odd Minutes will find it… but only by sheer accident.”
Patrick Doherty arrived at the Borden house slightly after 11:30. His observations about the crime scene in the guest room are worthy of note, especially his remarks on the blood of Abby Borden, which would give good indication that her death was considerably before the death of Andrew Borden. Doherty was in the thick of things that morning, first having a good look at Andrew Borden’s wounds:
“I noticed there was one wound down here, across the eye, that was very deep. It looked to me on the left side of the face, the right side was on the sofa, and the eye seemed to be knocked out, hanging by some thread or something. There was another wound came down by the nose, or down by the cheek bone, the cheek bone was open wide, by the cheek bone clear down to the neck was laid right open.” (Preliminary)
Then Doherty followed Dr. Bowen upstairs to examine the body of Abby. Doherty moved the bed. His was the first examination, before the arrival of medical examiner, Dr. Dolan:
” I went to the foot of the bed; I looked at her. She was laying face downwards between the dressing case and the bed. I noticed three or four blood spots on the pillow sham, and a bunch of hair on the bed.
Q. How large a bunch?
A. Well, it was a small bunch.
Q. It was not a switch or false hair?
A. No, I think it was human hair that had been pulled out, or something, been cut out, or something.
Q. Give me some idea how much.
A. About half as big as that, I should think.
Q. On the bed?
A. On the bed. I wanted to examine the woman, but there was not room between the bed and dressing case to walk. I walked back to the foot of the bed, up around the north side of the bed, and I pulled it out about three feet, away from her.
Q. Towards the street?
A. No, pulled it against the north wall, away from her head.
Q. So to make the space between the bed and the dressing case, wider?
A. Yes. I pulled it away, and I went in, and I stooped down and I saw that she was lying in a pool of thick black blood, and her head was all cut.
Q. Face down, or back down?
A. Face down.
Q. How were her arms?
A. This way, something like that. I just put one finger here, and raised this a little bit so I could see under the hair around the ear better.”(Preliminary)
Afterward, Doherty ran down Spring St. to place a call to the city marshal. The telephone was in the undertaker’s shop which was opposite the Catholic Church (St. Mary’s). When Doherty returned to #92 Dr. Dolan was on the spot, and after speaking with the maid, Bridget Sullivan, Doherty enlisted Officer Mullaly in making a search of the house. The cellar door was locked, and rooms were searched with the exception of Emma’s room.
“Q. What did you find in your search?
A. We did not find anything.
Q. Were you one of those who assisted in finding the hatchets?
A. I was there when the officer had the hatchet; I did not find it.
Q. And the axes?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What officer had it when you first saw it?
A. Mr. Mullaly.
Q. You did not see where he got it?
A. I did not see where he got it. I saw him take it from a shelf about as high as his head.
Q. Did you make any examination of the hatchet yourself?
A. I just looked over his shoulder at it, that is, stood by his side and looked at it. ” (Preliminary)
Doherty also had an interview with Lizzie:
“A. I said “Miss Borden, where were you when your father was killed”? She said “I was in the barn”. I said “is there any Portuguese working on the farm over the River for your father?’ She said “no sir”.”Who works for your father?” She says “Mr. Eddy, and Mr. Johnson; and Mr. Eddy has been sick.” I asked her if either Mr. Eddy or Mr. Johnson were in town this morning, or up here to the house this morning. She said “no sir.” “Neither Mr. Eddy nor Mr. Johnson would hurt my father.”
Q. Anything more?
A. No Sir.
Q. Did she say anything about a noise, or hearing any noise?
A. Yes Sir. I asked her, I said “Miss Borden, did you hear any screams, or outcries”? She said “No sir. I heard some kind of a peculiar noise”. I says “can you describe the noise”? She says “no, not very well; something like scraping”. That is all the conversation I had with her.”(Preliminary)
Doherty was also sent to inspect the properties surrounding the Borden house and went to examine the views from the Chagnon house behind the Borden barn. Doherty would also give a good description of the dress Lizzie had on that morning as being a light blue background, a “challie” cotton print with a dark blue figure or spot on it, a description which is similar to that given by others.
Pear Essential Players Appear in Recent House Promo
Ric Rebelo has produced another great Lizzie video, this one promoting the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. The Pear Essential Players, a “Bordenian” Acting Troupe which performs only on August 4th, is featured in in 2008 and 2009 performances. The video is accompanied by wonderfully atmospheric music and commentary by co-owner, Lee Ann Wilber.
On the morning of August 4th, if you were contemplating murder from inside #92, the first floor was a good place to be, for on the first floor a killer inside could be able to easily watch all four sides around the house without having to unlock doors and run up and down stairs. Lizzie has no confirmable alibi for either murder- but she claims she spent the morning in the kitchen by the stove reading during the interval when Abby Borden was murdered upstairs. With Bridget starting the window-washing on the south end, and Lizzie sitting at the table between the kitchen windows overlooking the south end- she could easily have seen all Bridget was doing. The windows are set so high from the ground, Bridget would not have been able to look inside the house or see anyone standing in a room, from the outside unless that person were standing in the window.
Bridget spent a leisurely time chatting with Mary Doolan, the Kelly maid from next door over by the south side fence (now a wall) which is clearly visible from either south-facing kitchen window. The southeastern kitchen window also has a good view into the Kelly backyard and the east window in the kitchen has an excellent view of the back yard (see 1893 photo below). Bridget got water from the barn. She admits to coming into the sink room via the north side entry once to get a dipper, and says she did not notice Lizzie in the kitchen. This confirmed that the north side screen door was unlocked- which proved a saving grace for Lizzie as an intruder could have gained entry through this door over the space of time it was unlocked, approximately an hour.
A few steps further from the kitchen into the sittingroom would reveal just how Bridget was getting along with the window-washing.
The dining room windows would have given a view of the driveway, side entry stairs and Mrs. Churchill’s house situated to the north end of the
Borden house. Today, with the removal of the Churchill house, the view is open and reveals much of Second Street and the lawn of the housing complex next door. The view from the north side parlor window also overlooks the driveway and what would have been the Churchill house.
The kitchen was also the place to be to monitor all the doorways as well, with the cellar door and north screen door (photo below views of both) in plain sight, and the front door on the west end of the house could be heard if opened with a key, from the kitchen.
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.
Chances are that if you only take the day tour at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, you have missed meeting one of the great assets of the establishment, longtime head chef, Dave Quigley. Dave and the B&B started out together on the same day back in 1996, and Dave is the longest -serving employee of the business. When the house first opened its doors, Dave would come on duty at 10 p.m. just as the night tour of the house ended, and would spend the “third shift” perched uncomfortably on the narrow, hard Victorian sofa in the parlor, watching the tiny television set which received only 3 channels with rabbit ear antenna.
Dave was oncall to answer a million questions from overnight guests and deal with all the night time emergencies that can happen in an old house. “How do I get to Salem?”, “Where is Bellevue Avenue?”, “What’s a jonnycake?”, etc. and many other pressing inquires Dave had to field every morning. All these he answered cheerfully with good humor and an amazing talent for knowing the best places to eat, the best routes to take to most of New England attractions, and the usual queries about the Borden case and the house in general. Dave became a master of all trades by necessity. Leaky faucets, plugged up toilets, fire alarms going off in the night, special requirements from guests, unwanted visitors, power blackouts, snowstorms – Dave saw it all. And in the process probably flipped over 100,000 of the famous cornmeal jonnycakes. Foremost and primarily, Dave loved to cook and chat with the guests. Sometime’s Dave would forget the jonnycakes while visiting with the guests and the smoke alarms would sound, bringing the Fire Chief to the door in full gear, wielding an axe. Memorable moments.
The menu has not changed much since opening day: scrambled eggs, homefried potatoes, sausages or Canadian bacon, coffee, tea, fruit cup and jonnycakes, the last item served to the Bordens on the fateful day. Dave used to love to tell the story about jonnycakes, a local delicacy and an acquired taste. “Journey cakes, they were called because they could travel a long time in a saddlebag on a long trek”, Dave would intone every morning. “Put some maple syrup on ’em- then they have some taste”.
Over the past few years Dave has been spared the hard sofa overnight, and arrives about 6 a.m. to get the coffee machine going for early risers. Chefs in training, Will and Logan, will be taking over for Dave next weekend. Here’s wishing Dave many happy golfing days on the greens, big wins at the casino, and relaxing hours with lovely wife, Jean. Best Wishes!
Dave’s old black gas Glenwood, once found rusting in a field in Vermont and refitted for gas pipes. “She’s temperamental but works like a champ if you know how to appease her”!
The 2009 Fall River Historical House Tour Event sponsored by the Preservation Society of Fall River ! Start & Program Pickup: The Quequechan Club, 306 North Main St. Enjoy 6 Private Historic Homes, The Fall River Historical Society, Lafayette Durfee House, & The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. Tickets are $17.00 Saturday December 12, 2009 11:am – 4:pm Advance Tickets Available at: New Boston Bakery Fall River Historical Society ArtCart or call 508-673-4841
It was a balmy, very breezy full-moon Halloween night in Fall River with lots of Lizzie afoot. The Eagle hosted a performance of Lizzie Borden Live and the old house on Second Street was hopping with trick or treaters and 12 guests on tour and having the annual Halloween seance at 10:30. Here’s some of the Halloween fun!
Visitors and guests who visit the Borden house are intrigued by all of the pears they find inside. For those in the know about the case, they smile and understand the reference to Lizzie’s alibi about being in the hayloft munching the fruit when her father was murdered, and sometimes humorous testimony about all of the pear-eating by the occupants of #92 on August 4th. August 4th is also the one day of the year when the house re-enactment troupe, The Pear Essential Players, are in residence recreating the fateful day for visitors. Did the police check Lizzie’s alibi and look for pear cores in the hayloft? Or would Lizzie smoothly have admitted to eating those pears cores and all? 🙂