Borden Spaces and Places
Houses, buildings, streets, & edifices related to the case
Christmas came early this year for those who enjoy Fall River history and have an interest in the Borden case and the enigmatic Miss Lizzie. Parallel Lives was released this morning to the public. By 11: 30 a.m. a long line snaked its way down the pavement toward Maple Street and there was a feeling of restless expectation in the air as the noon hour approached. . A man came around the corner bearing two copies of the coveted tome as heads swiveled to catch a glimpse. A spontaneous outburst of appreciation went up from the crowd followed by many comments as to the SIZE of the massive tome.
No preview copies were released for reviewing to anyone, so it was with enormous excitement today’s release was anticipated. Beginning on Friday, the benefactors of the publication enjoyed a special gathering, followed by Saturday night’s annual Christmas Open House for members, and capping off an extraordinary weekend with today’s public release of the book, viewing of a special exhibit of materials featured in the book (cards, letters, gifts Lizzie presented to friends, etc.) and a tour of the Christmas decorations, always an annual treat.
The authors held court in the front parlor at a beautifully decorated table with a red rose Christmas arrangement, signing autographs and having photographs taken with visitors. On the lawn, on the stairs, and anywhere one could sit, people clutched their volume, looking eagerly through the pages. From all corners came appreciative little shrieks of excitement as never-before-seen photos were discovered, especially those showing Lizzie herself. Even those who vowed not to ruin the surprise until they could sit at leisure soon gave way to overwhelming curiosity and were soon leafing furiously through the pages. Some had driven hours to pick up their copies.
It would be presumptuous to attempt any sort of review of this major work until the whole was digested, therefore the Warps & Wefts review will be forthcoming in the near future. Suffice it to say, Parallel Lives is as plummy a Christmas pudding as anyone could ever wish for, chock full of juicy morsels, delicious facts and photos, fascinating history, surprises and many hours of enthralled reading. To reveal too much would be to ruin your own Christmas surprise- so-
Just spring to your sleigh, to your team give a whistle,
To Rock Street fly like the down of a thistle.
Parallel Lives is the gift sure to please, so take heed,
Happy holidays to all, and to all a good read!
With a wrecker’s ball looming over the spire of the historic Central Congregational Church, today’s announcement in the Fall River Herald News brings a sigh of hope to city preservationists. The Ruskinian Gothic structure of red and white brick, designed by the prestigious firm of Hartwell & Swazey, was, until recently a culinary arts school with an attached restaurant, The Abbey Grille. The business went into foreclosure, the edifice was boarded up and weeds set in. The scenario looked bleak for the church, once the bustling religious center for many of the city’s society families from The Hill section. Andrew Borden paid for a pew in the vast sanctuary, although it was primarily Lizzie alone who attended regularly.
Jerry and son Chris Donovan have restored and rescued other properties in the city, most notably the old Eagle on North Main Street, now a center for performing arts. The historical commission is back in business and it looks like great things are in the works! Good news indeed.
The Eagle on re-opening night.
The sweet-faced lady on the piazza holding her pet is a far cry from the caricature of the raging homicidal spinster so often portrayed as being Lizzie Borden. The bobbleheads, tee shirts, and cartoons may have to undergo a re-do. Parallel Lives, the long-awaited biography of Lizzie and her times has released this amazing photograph of Lizzie with one of her Boston bull terriers (Laddie Miller), said to be taken around 1916 on the back porch of her French St. home, Maplecroft.
Followers of the Borden case will be drinking in every detail of her dress, her furnishings, her expression. A picture is worth a thousand words. The thick volume, studded with over 500 photos may be pre-ordered from the Fall River Historical Society. For the full story and link to order click on this link http://www.heraldnews.com/features/x464394189/Historical-Society-announces-first-true-biography-of-Lizzie-Borden
So will this photo and new bio change your mind about Lizzie?
Among the fascinating photos taken by hired photographer Mr. Walsh, on the day of the murders is this one below of Andrew Borden reclining post mortem on a caned autopsy board(sometimes called a cooling board). Cooling boards came in many patented designs. Air had to circulate through in the styles which had no ice drawer beneath, so wooden ones were frequently drilled with holes in elaborate patterns. Cane was naturally open-weave. In this photo, Mr. Borden has an incision from sternum to abdomen which was needed in order to extract his stomach. The same procedure was done on Mrs. Borden in the diningroom while Mr. Borden’s took place in front of the black horsehair sofa in the sitting room. A portion of the sofa may be seen in the background as well as the arm of the sofa. The doorway in the center of the photo goes into the kitchen.
After a long search, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast museum has procured an 1890’s autopsy board which is strikingly similar, if not exact, to the one on which Mr. Borden reclines. This model folds in the middle so as to make it easy for the medical examiner or mortician to transport it.
The term “cooling board” also refers to another type of solid wooden board upon which the body is laid while in transit, awaiting transit or awaiting attention from the mortician. The body literally goes from a warm state just post mortem to “cooling” on the flat surface. Vintage cooling boards are quite collectible and can easily fetch a sum between 400- 1000 dollars.
As the evenings close in earlier and earlier, thoughts of Halloween and things that go bump in the night are in the thoughts of overnight guests at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. Halloween Night always sells out well in advance, some rooms a year ahead. The orange glow of the street lamp casts an eerie light on #92 Friday night at 2 a.m. as guests returned from a night time tour of the city. The house has a jack-o’- lantern look as golden light pours through the windows in the dark.
A recent W&W purchase from Ebay shows a great vintage photo of bales of cotton in transit to the mill to be spun and woven. Guessing on just where this photo was taken, and going by the GLE on the sign in the background, this looks to be North Main Street in front of the old EAGLE building. Can anyone confirm this? There are many wonderful Fall River photos to be bought at a bargain on Ebay at the moment.
Many anxious eyes are watching the outcome for the old Central Congregational Church on Rock St. The building by Hartwell and Swazey is of significant historical value, and is in a state of disrepair currently that requires considerable money to restore. Here is a new video detailing the history of the edifice.
This year the August 4th production at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast will debut a new leading lady. She is no stranger to the part. The photos here are taken from an episode filmed last summer for the Travel Channel. Kathleen Troost-Cramer, day manager at the famous B&B in Fall River, may be remembered for performances in years past as Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan. This year, having gotten in a few practice whacks with a hatchet, Kathleen is ready to take on the legendary Lizzie Borden, probably the most difficult role of the lot as expectations are so varied and anticipated by the sold-out crowd which assembles every year on the 4th to re-live the Borden tale of mystery.
Mild-mannered mother of two, and Bible scholar, this role is quite a stretch, but anyone who has been “under the hatchet”to Kathleen can testify- she means business!
Congratulations and “break-a-leg” to Kathleen as we wait to see her unique spin on the unforgettable Lizzie Borden!
First performance on August 4th at 10:30 a.m., last performance at 3:30 p.m.
In addition to anticipating the upcoming release of the historical society’s Parallel Lives, August will welcome a new play about the famous case. The Herald News reports:
A new play, “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe,” depicting the well known Lizzie Borden case will be staged in Fall River for the 119th anniversary of the hatchet murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.
There will be two performances on Aug. 5 and 6 at the Nagle Auditorium at B.M.C. Durfee High School by the Covey Theatre Company of Syracuse, N.Y.
Fresh from winning two Syracuse Area Live Theatre awards for Best Original Play and Best Costumes, as well as the Gloria Peter Playwright competition from Aurora, NY, “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” left critics enthralled and Bordenophiles raving.
“Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” will be staged Friday and Saturday, Aug. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling 315-420-3729 or online at” www.thecoveytheatrecompany.com.
The annual costumed recreation of August 4th will take place as usual at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast on the 4th, which this year, will be a Thursday, just as it was in 1892.
Plenty of Lizzie on the way for August!
Guests and employees at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast enjoyed watching the TODAY show feature this morning in the parlor. Already the online clip has had nearly 500 comments and the phones are briskly ringing on Second Street. The interest in the Borden case?- Keen as ever.
The Borden house is hosting guests from the TODAY show this afternoon. The filming, which was to have taken place last Wednesday, was postponed until today. The segment is slated to air sometime in May. The crew will be filming at the house, with an interview by Barbara Borden Morrissey and will then relocate to the Fall River Historical Society to film case artifacts and to discuss the upcoming Parallel Lives. The crew picked a beautiful day to be in the city, with high temps and plenty of sunshine.
Chances are if you Goggle Lizzie Borden under the “News” heading, you will find several pages of stories on the Chloe Sevigny HBO project for a four hour mini-series, including stories in Polish, French, Russian and Italian! And if you live in Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts, tonight at 6 p.m., Channel 10 news jumped on the promotion band wagon. With all of the very positive buzz and excitement, it is hard to believe Tom Hanks and Playtone would change their mind about producing the four -hour series. To view the Channel 10 clip, http://www2.turnto10.com/entertainment/2011/mar/17/sevigny-may-play-lizzie-borden-miniseries-ar-426649/
The casting of Miss Sevigny as Lizzie is spot-on. She has all the right physical attributes, right down to the mesmerizing and unsettling eyes, and is of the right age to pull it off. She is also a better-than-good actress. It will be very interesting to see who will be cast in the major roles. Maybe Uncle John Morse will be included this time around.
Due to street noise and the encroachment of modern living, and many other factors, the house on Second Street will not be a likely candidate for the filming venue. The 1975 Elizabeth Montgomery attempt did a pretty fair job of recreating Borden house interiors on stage sets.
There are very high hopes in Fall River, among the Borden house bed and breakfast employees, and students of the Borden case and Fall River history that this version will get the facts right and do the story justice. Playtone and Hanks are synonymous with quality productions, so the end result holds very great promise. It is surprising that it has taken so long to revisit the case and Lizzie Borden as the topic has been building momentum and interest since the Borden house opened for business in 1996.
The buzz about the upcoming Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives, detailing Lizzie’s life and Fall River has been the hot topic around Fall River for many months as it promises revelations about Miss Borden which will open a few eyes. The date of publication has not yet been announced but the long-awaited tome is in final proofing and chances are it will be published by late Spring. The nearly thousand -page volume will feature over 500 photographs, including some new views of Lizzie herself, and will disspell some commonly -held notions about her. It will be a must-read for Miss Sevigny and should have some major impact on her characterization of the enigmatic Lizzie. The series will probably have an early 2012 air date according to some sources.
In any event, Lizzie is bigger now than ever, and the upcoming series will be a boon to the city as well as book sales of Parallel Lives. It will be a very exciting year ahead.
This Monday, March 14th, will mark the birthday of Lawdwick Borden, the great -uncle of Lizzie Borden. Lawdwick is not so much remembered as his second wife, Eliza Darling, the mother of the unfortunate children who were thrown into a cistern. The story has grown over the years and been embellished. Guests to the Borden house today all want to hear about “the children in the well”. Finally the facts and the correct spelling of Lawdwick Borden can be set forth for all time. The photographs and censuses detailing the four wives of Lawdwick Borden may be viewed here. http://lizziebordenwarpsandwefts.com/the-four-wives-of-lawdwick-borden/
Happy Birthday “Uncle Lawdy”.
The snows did fall and the wind did blow, but the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast had a busy winter and the month of March is jammed- packed with activities too. The first Murder Mystery Weekend was held over the Valentine’s Day weekend, followed by the Dead of Winter paranormal event with Chris Moon. The news, posted here earlier, detailing B&B visitor Chloe Sevigny’s proposed upcoming project of an HBO mini-series about the Borden case filming this summer was icing on the cake.
Last week, those who work at the house were thrilled to learn the TODAY show will be making a visit the end of the month to shoot a special on the fascination with the case. The timing could not have been better for the release of the eagerly-awaited Parallel Lives from the Fall River Historical Society. The authors will also be appearing on the morning televison special segment. The Second Street Irregulars will be descending on the 31st for a jammed-packed 3 days at the house and on the road, with some special guests and stops along the way. It looks like 2011 will be another banner year for Lizzie & Co.
photos courtesy of JoAnne Giovino
Andrew Borden’s final morning, leading up to the time of his murder was witnessed by many people as he made his usual rounds around the city. A creature of habit, his daily pattern of barber, post office, banks, and check-in at properties he owned on South Main Street were predictable. He was noted by Abram G.Hart at the bank, encountered by store renter Jonathan Clegg on the street across from old City Hall, engaged in conversation by Mathers and Shortsleeves while checking on a window near the corner of Spring St. and South Main, and observed around 10:45 a.m. by neighbor Caroline Kelly coming around the corner of his house and going up his front steps, attempting to gain entry. Mrs. Kelly would be the last non-family member to see him alive.
Pierre LeDuc is listed as a “hairdresser” along with his partner Joseph LeDoux in the 1891-2 city directory, with their establishment on the second level over Wood and Hall’s shop, which was a furniture store that also had a side line in undertaking, a common practice at the time, supplying things for a funeral and offering wooden coffins for sale in their showroom.
Born of an English father (according to one source) and a French Canadian mother in May of 1864, the family came to America in 1870. The stone marker in Notre Dame Cemetery does not list Pierre’s date of birth, only his death date. The 1900 census has his birthday as May 1864, but the marker has him aged 68 in 1928 which would have made his birth year 1860, the same as Lizzie Borden’s. On April 14, 1890 he married Marie at Saint Anne’s.
Below: City directory entries:
Pierre Leduc 1889-1891 City Directory Location 1: 8 Pleasant Location 2: boards 2 Sixth-and-a-half Occupation: hairdresser Year:
City: Fall River State: MA Pierre Leduc Location 1: 5 Main Location 2: boards 2 Sixth-and-a-half Business Name: Leduc & Ledoux Occupation: hairdresser Year:
City: Fall River State: MA Pierre Leduc Location 1: 5 Main Location 2: boards 2 Sixth-and-a-half Business Name: Leduc & Ledoux Occupation: hairdresser Year:
City: Fall River State: MA
(click on image above to enlarge to full size) The 1910 census shows Pierre and Marie now living at 160 Robeson Street and they have adopted a daughter, Catherine. With no children appearing since their wedding at St. Anne’s in 1890, twenty years later adoption completed the family. Catherine was born in Massachusetts. Pierre is listed as a barber. Interesting to note that while Pierre’s speaking language is English, Marie’s is listed as French. In other census listings, Pierre and Marie Americanize their names to Peter and Mary LeDuc. And what happened to Pierre’s partner, Joseph LeDoux? In 1930 he is still barbering as an old man and living on Spring Street. If you are fortunate enough to have a copy of Judith A. Boss’ book, Fall River. A Pictoral History (1982 and available on Amazon), you will see a young Pierre LeDuc posing in a jaunty boater hat and crisp white barbering smock in front of Whitehead’s grocery store. He is young and slender. There is only the Fall River Globe’s account that Pierre gave Andrew Borden his last shave and trim the day of the murders. LeDuc probably never thought this is what he would be remembered for in the future.
It’s no secret actress Chloe Sevigny loves the Lizzie Borden story and enjoyed her recent visit to the popular Bed and Breakfast in Fall River where the crimes took place. She recently announced in an interview that she will be starring in the role of Lizzie Borden for an HBO two-part miniseries on the famous case. This is a pet project which has been initiated by the actress herself. For more on the details see the interview here. Air date is yet to be announced. http://www.thenewsgallery.com/2011/02/chloe-sevigny-talks-to-imagine-fashion.html
The ground fog rolled in thick from Oak Grove Avenue to the front entrance of Oak Grove last Sunday between 3 and 5 p.m. Captured in the fog are some interesting photos of the Borden plot, Cook Borden’s famous granite tree trunk, stones of Officer Wixon (he who tried out climbing over the Borden’s back fence on August 4th), and Southard Miller who built the Borden house on Second Street. Someone had visited over the holiday, and left a tribute at Lizzie’s grave. Several photos in the slideshow below, as indicated, were photographed by Will Clawson.
Axe or hatchet? – Most likely a hatchet or a short-handled axe.
Top Ten List of Most Often-Quoted Borden Case Errors
1. Lizzie was found guilty by jury of the murders of her mother and father.
Actually Lizzie was acquitted on all three counts, the murder of her father, her stepmother and both at the trial in New Bedford, June 1893.
2. Lizzie Borden was a redhead.
According to her passport she had light brown hair.
3. Lizzie’s father cut off the heads of Lizzie’s pet pigeons with a hatchet.
Andrew Borden did kill the pigeons, but by wringing their necks, according to Lizzie’s inquest statement.
4. Lizzie decapitated Abby Borden’s tabby kitten.
We have only the interview of Abby Borden’s niece, Abbie Whitehead Potter stating that Lizzie killed a kitten. The Whitehead family, with reason, had very little sympathy towards Lizzie, and this tale cannot be validated.
5. Lizzie Borden was a big, mannish woman.
Lizzie was 5 ft. 3 inches tall according to her passport, average for the times. She had put on weight during the ten months she was incarcerated in Taunton jail. Her face did have a heavy lower jaw and was described by one newspaper as a face with attributes very common to the region.
6. Lizzie and her sister sold the house where the murders took place on Second Street after Lizzie was acquitted in 1893.
The sisters held on to the property until 1918.
7. Lizzie was a kleptomaniac.
Legend has it that she shoplifted at local Main St. stores and that the bill for what she had pilfered would be sent to her father to pay. Shoplifting was surprisingly not uncommon among ladies of the period. There is no documentation at present in existence that Lizzie was a kleptomaniac and that Andrew paid the bills. The only corroborating bit of evidence is of a documented thievery of a porcelain wall ornament which went “missing” from the Tilden and Thurber jewelry store in Providence. When the item was taken back to the store for a repair, the owner was questioned about its provenance only to be told Lizzie Borden had been the gift giver. This matter was eventually settled privately. It is possible that Lizzie was a shoplifter in younger years, but not proven so.
8. Andrew Borden was a mortician.
Andrew Borden was trained as a carpenter and then went into business as a furniture and household goods retailer. He invested wisely in real estate, including two small farms, all of which would bring him a good financial return, and as a sideline, he was an undertaker. Undertaker in 1890 parlance meant a person who would supply items needed for a funeral. He was neither a funeral director, embalmer, nor mortician. An invoice has been found for his services and for a casket, signed by Borden. It was not uncommon for furniture retailers to supply wooden coffins and caskets and have a showroom or warehouse facility containing these items.
9. Lizzie committed the two murders in the nude.
Thanks to the 1975 film starring Elizabeth Montgomery as Lizzie, the nude murderess scenario has its supporters. In 1890, the thought was put forth that the killer must be saturated with blood, and it should have been impossible to hide or escape without the telltale blood evidence being detected. In fact, the killer need not have been covered from head to toe with blood, or could have worn, then later destroyed a protective covering garment. It would be unusual for a lady in the era of corsets and petticoats to have stripped bare twice on a sunny morning and walked around the house in broad daylight , then to clean up in between in a large tin basin in the cellar. Not impossible- just unlikely.
10. Lizzie Borden killed her stepmother and father.
So often assumed as fact , – in fact, nobody will ever have the final answer to this one. Based on the evidence given to the jury then, and in re-examinations of the trial evidence now, Lizzie is acquitted. Her inquest testimony, prussic acid evidence, and dress-burning evidence were not allowed at the trial. The fact that a side door remained open for almost an hour, and that an intruder could have entered the house and concealed himself, allows for reasonable doubt. And therein lies the fascination with this case.
Got a favorite oft-quoted but unsubstantiated Borden case statement to share? Please leave a comment!