Fall River Now and Then
Beginning on January 1st, W&W will begin featuring fascinating short clippings from the Fall River papers and other newspapers from 1892 through the present which concern Lizzie herself or the endless parade of personalities involved in the case. They will remain accessible here in a sort of clippings archive. There is much to be learned from these small snippets in print!
Fall River Globe, June 1892
This past weekend the cordial society of armchair sleuths returned to #92 Second Street for the annual flocking of the Second Street Irregulars (Muttoneaters) for a jam-packed tour of many Borden-related sites around the area. Friday morning the group of 16 visited the Fall River Historical Society to bestow the yearly awards upon the recent publication by Michael Martins and Dennis Binette, Parallel Lives. The flock enjoyed a coffee hour, tour and photo session in the beautiful Victorian garden before heading off to Fairhaven for a picnic at Fort Phoenix and a city tour given by Chris Richards who was dressed to impress!
Chris fired off a vintage rifle, explained how teeth were extracted, limbs were amputated and the life and activities of a wartime barber-dentist-surgeon, a role he re-enacts in costume with a local history group at Fort Phoenix annually. Afterward the Muttoneaters toured city hall and learned about Mark Twain’s dedication speech given on the stage there, visited the locales of the homes in which Helen Brownell stayed (Emma Borden’s alibi), and visited the beautiful Millicent Library where a letterbox was found in a very special place inside. (see Atlasquest.com for clues!) The group then returned to Fall River for a pizza party and presentations on the Villisca murders of 1912 and discussions on Andrew Jennings, one of the attorneys for Lizzie whose journals they saw at the historical society earlier.
Saturday was a busy day which began with a trip to Oak Grove Cemetery to see the room in which the Bordens were autopsied on August 11, 1892, and to inspect the interior of the holding tomb used to house the coffins of the Bordens both before and after the heads were removed by Dr. Dolan.
The morning concluded with a very special visit to Maplecroft and a great tour by Mr. Bob Dube who conducted the group through every room of the three-storied home and explained what was original to Lizzie’s tenure there. This was a very special and much-appreciated opportunity as the house is currently for sale with the future owner still unknown.
After lunch the Muttoneaters visited the Animal Rescue League of Fall River, an annual stop, to bring dog and cat treats and a special 1927 newspaper detailing Lizzie and Emma Borden’s donation to this worthy cause, bequeathed in their wills.
The afternoon brought a real surprise when the group was invited to visit the cellar of the Lodowick Borden (also known as Dr. Kelly’s) home next door to the Borden house on Second Street to view the chimney and cellar where in 1848 Eliza Darling Borden threw three of her children in a cistern and then committed suicide behind the chimney. Beautiful cabinetry with little drawers and cupboards were added much later when the Kellys moved to the house in 1891 and are still intact. The room was most likely used then as Dr. Kelly’s home office.
Saturday evening concluded with a visit from the “Women’s Christian Temperence Union” with Muttoneaters dressed as Mrs. Brayton, Carrie Nation and Mother Willard, followed by a Sunday-style chicken Gospel bird dinner and many hours of animated conversation about the famous Borden case. As always, nobody wanted to leave on Sunday morning and the planning begins again for next year’s adventures.
So much has been happening in the Borden sphere of late that you need a program to keep up. Not all has been happy news, but most has been cause for celebration.
1. The Central Congregational Church: Things are looking grim for Lizzie’s old church on Rock Street with hopes high yet for a reprieve once again. http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x962233671/Fall-Rivers-former-Central-Congregational-faces-wrecking-ball
2. HBO Mini Series The much-anticipated four-hour series starring Chloe Sevigny and backed by Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions is still simmering on the back burner. Hopefully when Miss Sevigny wraps her latest project, this fresh take on the Borden saga will get cookin’!
3. Donation of Andrew Jennings’ private notes and journal to the Fall River Historical Society was the exciting news this past weekend as the famous “hip bath collection” yielded one more treasure which was turned over to the historical society. http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x1785609188/Handwritten-journals-from-Lizzie-Borden-lawyer-donated-to-FRHS
4. Parallel Lives is recognized at New England Book Fair http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x570348962/Parallel-Lives-book-on-Lizzie-Borden-wins-honorable-mention
5. Coming Soon! Fall River Revisited by Stefani Koorey. Preorder now at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0738576840/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk
6. The Dead Files visit in January to the Borden house should be airing March 16th at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel. Check the website for schedule and more on hosts, Amy and Steve. http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/the-dead-files
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!
Have your copy of Parallel Lives autographed. Pre-ordered your copy? Not to worry, pick it up Sunday at the Fall River Historical Society Book Signing! Don’t let your friends beat you to the punch! 1000 pages and over 500 photos. You just may have to take your vacation next week! Come back over the holidays to see a very special exhibit of ephemera and other items discovered while researching for the book: notes, cards, letters and more from Lizzie’s own hand. Who could ask for anything more?
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?
October has always been a 4 star month for all things Lizzie, but this year as Halloween draws nearer, the case is everywhere. Tonight Ghost Adventures showcases their investigation at Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum (Friday,Oct 21) at 9pm and Saturday Oct.22 12am or midnight on the 21st. The crew from CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood visited Lizzie’s last weekend (the same day Aron Houdini (relative of the famous Harry) came to entertain staff and guests. That segment will air on October 30th at 9 a.m.
But most thrilling of all, the long-awaited tome published by the Fall River Historical Society which will feature amazing new facts about Lizzie and her times is now launched and can be pre- ordered on the site.(November 21st availability). The anticipation for this thick volume, chocked-full of photos(over 500), some new ones of Lizzie, is going to fly off the shelves. Visit the website for all the latest information and content and order form. It’s going to be an exciting time ahead for all of us! http://lizziebordenparallellives.com/welcome/
Also visit the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parallel-Lives-A-Social-History-of-Lizzie-A-Borden-and-Her-Fall-River/217117611686628
Here’s a fascinating newspaper clipping detailing the early days of Fall River when Main Street had to content with a monstrous outgrowth of granite called the Cleft Rock. Click on the pdf link below to learn what became of it.
Just in time for Lizzie’s birthday: the guide to Borden-related graves in Oak Grove Cemetery. The booklet contains maps, biographies of people connected with the case who are buried at Oak Grove, three walking tours with maps of how to locate both minor and major personalities in the Borden story, a history of the cemetery, fun facts and trivia, who is NOT buried at Oak Grove connected to the Borden case, and articles on the Victorian celebration of death, symbolism on funerary statuary and much more! Designed in a black and white “Edward Goreyesque” style, the publication will go on sale July 19th. Pricing and outlets which will stock the guide will be finalized and announced here on July 15th.
Most visitors to Fall River today never link the name of the city to waterfalls mostly because one has to hunt to find the falls.
The Quequechan River, nearly 3 miles long, (pronounced “Quick-a-shan” by natives), is the river that flows in a northwesterly direction from the South Watuppa Pond to the Taunton River. The word Quequechan means “falling water” in Wampanoag, which is the origin of the city’s name. At one time, there were eight falls between the Taunton River and where South Main St. is today.
When route 195 was built running beneath Government Center during the 1960’s, much of the river west of Plymouth Avenue was re-routed by a series of box culverts. It takes a careful eye to spot the few places in the city where a glimpse of the old Quequechan can still be seen. There is a small view at Hartwell and Fourth streets.
The most impressive view can be found on Anawan Street near the Work Out World gym where a section of surging river sweeps beneath a granite arch and then plunges down on the other side. With the Spring rain and melted snow swelling the river, April is the time to see the falls in their glory, flanked by enormous growths of pussey willows on the banks. It’s easy to imagine how the force of the falling water and coursing river was a boon to powering the great mills long ago. (video by Chris Striker Bound, April 1, 2011).
(wild pussey willows, photos by Chris Striker Bound)
The early 1960’s heralded a time of great demolition and restructuring in the heart of Fall River. The Quequechan river was filled in in some places, redirected and channeled in other places to make route 195 a possibility. Down came the wonderful old city hall with its clock tower and fabulous golden eagle perched at the very top. Down came many other brick and granite and mortar buildings nearby. At the time it seemed like progress, in retrospect, many today rue the day when the grand old edifices came down and the new government center, which some claim was designed in the “Brutalist” style went up with route 195 passing directly beneath it. The golden eagle was saved, as was the magnificent paneling inside and two of the tall granite columns on the front facade. The eagle is on display at government center and the Second Street Irregulars were treated to a fascinating tale by Chris Donovan about the day the eagle came down during a stop the Second Street Irregulars made to meet the mayor last week.
(video by Chris Striker Bound)
Tickets are on sale for the popular annual event. The Borden House will once again be participating in the event, which is only about a month away! This is one not to miss.
click on this link to go directly to the feature.
Those interested in the Borden Case will have a week ahead chock-full of things to see and do. It has been a long time since the conference at Bristol Community College and many who are fascinated with the case and needing a good dose of Bordenalia are heading to Fall River this week to take in as much as possible. Great weather is predicted!
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
1. The Fall River Public Library is hosting a book reading with author Richard Behrens, reading from his new book, Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3rd. Costumed cast from the annual Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum August 4th performances, The Pear Essential Players, will attend in character with a few words to say about Wednesday, the 4th on Second Street.
2. The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast will have daytime tours on the hour from 11 a.m. -3 p.m. on August 3rd. Don’t miss the gift shop! Advance tickets are on sale for August 4th performances of CSI Lizzie Borden. Richard Behrens will also be autographing his book on the 4th in the gift shop. A drawing will be held at the end of the day for a night’s stay for two at the house. Program GPS devices for 230 Second Street or 230 2nd Street.
3. Oak Grove Cemetery has convenient black arrows on the pavement from the office gate to the Borden plot and is open from early morning until dark. Many other case personalities are buried in the historic Victorian cemetery.
4. The Fall River Historical Society will be open with a special augmented Borden exhibit, featuring some items which are generally not on display all the time This is a must-see on the list for visitors coming to Fall River for the day. The society can be found at the corner of Maple and Rock streets. There is also a great gift shop selling Lizzie Borden merchandise and books.
5. A little drive around the city in the late afternoon might be a great way to end the day. The Andrew Borden Building is still standing on the corner of Anawan St. and South Main, Lizzie’s little school can also be found in the South End on Morgan Street, and Maplecroft is convenient if you plan to see the cemetery as it is only a short drive from Prospect to French Street. There is much beautiful Victorian architecture to be seen on The Hill and some fantastic restaurants in which to sample the local cuisine for dinner at the end of your day.
The Preservation Society of Fall River has recently released this wonderful Youtube presentation on the mission and projects of the society. Visit their website to join at http://www.fallriverpreservation.org/index.php
Here is a little brochure extolling the benefits of locating manufacturing and other business concerns to the City of Fall River. This publication is connected to T.R. Vestal at 31 Bedford Street. For more about the Vestal family, please click on the tab above “Another Side of Lizzie Borden”. This little brochure is a wonderful look into the many assets of the city at the turn of the century.
“The ratio of failures in business is said to be less in this city than any other one in this vicinity”. Click on each thumbnail image above to see full -sized page.
Courtesy of Jack Faria, the Vestal Collection