Fall River Now and Then

  • A Gentler Side of Lizzie Borden

    It’s seldom one hears about life with Lizzie at Maplecroft.  From time to time nuggets of her day-to-day life are revealed by guests who stay at #92 Second Street – guests whose grandparents had seen or had spoken to Lizzie in the years before her death in 1927, or those who had worked for her in various capacities. One guest spoke of how Lizzie kept small  foil-wrapped peppermint patties in a dish inside the front doors of Maplecroft in case a child might wander into her yard.  This was confirmed by another guest whose father was welcomed into the  foyer at Maplecroft when he was a tyke, and given candy and kind words by Miss Lizzie.  We hear of her concern for animals, and many anonymous gifts of cash to worthy causes and to people in need.  Her chauffeur’s son was assisted financially by Miss Borden in his quest for a medical school education, another child was helped with camp fees, veterinarian’s fees were paid when a dog was struck by a car and the owner was too poor to pay.

    All of this paints another picture of what we have all come to think of Lizzie Borden.  She was a multi-dimensional personality.  Now the story of  the little girl who was not afraid to bring Lizzie milk and eggs has been written , with more insights on one of Fall River’s old families, and the kindness of Lizzie Borden.  To read this article by Jack Faria, please click on Another Side of Lizzie Borden at the top of the page, or click on this link :


  • April Mutton Eater’s Article Online Now

    Lizzie Borden’s School Days & The Morgan Street School

    (photo courtesy of Hollie B. Dziedzic)

    Lizzie’s grammar school still stands on Morgan Street.  Re-named the Nathaniel B. Borden School many years ago, the venerable edifice, built in 1868 closed its doors as a school forever in 2007.  This month’s article features a slideshow and article about the school and comments about Lizzie’s school days there. Click on the tab at the top of the page header for April Mutton Eaters Online to read this month’s feature.

  • Feb. 17th History Club Meeting

    Fall River History Club meeting
    Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 6:30 pm

    Fall River Public Library, Fall River, MA
    Topic:  The Fall River Fire of 1916

    Presented by George Petrin

    The fire started in the basement of the Steiger store in the evening of February 15, 1916 Over thirty businesses were destroyed and the losses totaled  over 1.5 million.The fire burned for over 5 hours and consumed several acres of the business district.

      March 17   Bob Kitchen will discuss the geology/geography of Fall River,and how Fall River became the largest producer of cotton in the world!
  • City Sites

    Fall River Government Center decked out for Christmas.

    The center, which replaced the old Victorian City Hall, may be one of the few municipal government structures in the country to be situated directly over the top of a major interstate highway- a situation which has caused a few structural maintainance complications over the years.

    The old City Hall

    Two of the original front pillars are featured now at the beginning of Old Second Street.



  • A Christmas Editorial

    All across the country families  now make their way to cemeteries carrying Christmas wreaths and baskets filled with artificial holly, greens and pinecones and red velvet bows.  Our dead should not be forgotten at this family time of year.

    On August 4, 1892, two elderly, harmless people were brutally slashed and bludgeoned to death in the sanctity of their home, a place which should have been a haven of safety.  No justice will ever come for the silent slain.  The killer went on to live and prosper another day, and to celebrate Christmas. 

    Christmas 1892 left Lurana Borden without her brother Andrew.  Lizzie and Emma Borden were fatherless.  Nobody knows for sure if they both mourned deeply.  It is entirely possible that they did.

     In the Whitehead household on Fourth Street,  Sarah and Little Abbie mourned.  Mrs. George Fish, Abby’s sister was bereft.  Abby and Andrew Borden were loved by some family members, surely- and liked by some neighbors and friends. The tragedy of their loss was felt.  How did they feel standing at the grave, bare of a marker in the Christmas of 1892?  The citizens of the city, demanding that someone be brought to trial for the deeds during that hot month of August had a suspect in jail- waiting.

    How curious it is that in 2009, the victims become but a side note to the tragedy.  It is the accused and aquitted whose name lives on.  If one were to stop by Oak Grove Cemetery and leave a floral tribute to the victims, within hours it would find its way to the grave of Lizzie Borden- taken without a thought and re-deposited  without a thought.  Below the frostline now lay today what remains of the sad, frozen bones of Abby and Andrew Borden- still headless, –  and now their likenesses and characters the fodder for irreverent cartoons, gift products and unspeakable accusations made without a shred of evidence.  Those who once were loved and walked among us.  Does the interval of Time allow for such insensitive liberties?  Is murder ever a source for humor?

     How we memorialize our Dead says a great deal about ourselves in these modern times- a thought to contemplate any day- and especially at this time of year. 

    An epitaph often seen on grave markers

    Remember friend as you pass by.
    As you are now so once was I.
    As I am now so shall you be.
    Death take thy hand, and follow me.”

  • Preservation Society House Tour

    The weather cooperated this year, with clear blue skies, lots of sun and just a chill in the air to remind us Christmas is two weeks away.  This year decorated trolleys made the round of houses, which helped speed things along and spare weary feet as they climbed the hills of The Hill section of the city.

    Homes on Belmont, Lincoln Ave, Cherry St. and Rock St. threw wide their doors to an appreciative throng of visitors.  Fires crackled merrily, the fragrance of cloves and cinnamon, hot mulled cider and balsam flooded the air as decorations were admired.  Period furnishings, historic photos and mementoes, and homey touches were appreciated by all who were lucky today to enjoy the insides of magnificent homes usually only glimpsed from the street.

    18th century tea service and reproduction epergne

    The Fall River Historical Society outdid itself this year as well, and all agreed that this was the best year ever for the popular house tour.  At 4:30 footsore house tour guests were treated to a concert of holiday music by the Durfee High School String orchestra.  All in all- a perfect day.  Thanks to families participating this year. It was grand!

  • Victorian House Tour 2009 December 12th

    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

  • Undertaker Winward

    James E. Winward was the man Lizzie Borden wanted immediately to undertake the funeral of her father.  On the day of the murders, just a very short time after Lizzie said she found her father on the sofa, she requested the services of Mr. Winward, who at the time had his business address at 13 South Main Street.  Even before the body of Abby Borden was found on the second floor, Lizzie was voicing the opinion that she would be the one to go down to Oak Grove Cemetery to arrange her father’s funeral and burial.  This may be construed as a curious statement as Mrs. Borden would have had this task herself-did Lizzie already know Mrs. Borden was lying dead upstairs?

    Young Mr. Winward (aged only 38 on the day of the murders) came as requested, and was to find not one, but two bodies at #92 Second Street. He and his assistant had the grisly task of removing the heavily blood-stained sofa from the sitting room later in the day. 

    Mr. Winward enjoyed a successful career in his field, and fitted the ideal of a funeral director in every aspect of appearance and decorum.  A photograph of Mr. Winward is soon to be published.  At the end of his life, Mr. James E. Winward lived in a prosperous section in the north end of the city on Madison Street.  He is buried with his wife Annie, his daughter Helen Winward Brown and his son-in-law in the cemetery where he spend  so many years organizing funerals for so many city clients- Oak Grove.

    The role of Mr. Winward was ably performed by funeral director Andrew Correia for the recent August 4th re-enactments at # 92 Second Street.

  • Now & Then #3 South Main

    Not too much remains today of the 1903 postcard view of South Main St. looking north.  The city hall, once the prominent landmark in many postcards, has been replaced by the government center. Shopping fixture, McWhirr’s, was demolished years ago, and the steeple of the Central Congregational Church, currently the Culinary Institute and Abbey Grille now wears a sheath of black mesh after some brickwork and concrete fell to the ground a few months ago. It is still a reassuring presence in the center background of both images. With the price of gasoline now, it sure would be great to have those trolley cars back on Main Street!

  • Now and Then- A New Photo Series

    Fall River post cards are still plentiful and can be had in the 1-8 dollar range locally.  Cards span the decades from 1900 to about the 1970’s when sending postcards began to lose its appeal.  This is the “debut view” of a series of postcards and their counterpart sites as seen today in 2008.  It’s sad to see so many familiar landmarks, some of significant architectural merit, destroyed. The most obvious feature missing on the left in the second photo is the great old city hall which was torn down in the early 1960’s. Also gone is the Durfee Theatre and the Granite Block building. The postcard is dated 1945. Happily, the Academy Building is still standing as seen in 1945 in the far background of each image.