photos, floor plan and facts about the house on The Hill
Excitement is building all around town as Maplecroft is preparing to open its doors to the public. Important safety features, porch renovations, and other structural projects and improvements are underway while enthusiastic devotees of the Borden case are counting the days until they might see with their own eyes the place where Miss Borden spent the rest of her life after her acquittal in 1893. The hope is that it shall not be much longer- perhaps three or four weeks until this Victorian gem of French Street will be receiving visitors.
Oh my! Is that Miss Lizzie! ?
For many summers the For Sale sign has been up in front of the famous address on French Street, Lizzie Borden’s beloved and last home. Over the past few weeks, an interested buyer has made trips to Fall River and at last the house, owned for many years by Robert Dube, has transferred ownership. The Fall River Herald News broke the story this afternoon at this link. http://www.heraldnews.com/article/20141121/NEWS/141128850
The house will operate as a Bed & Breakfast and it looks like exciting times ahead for the old Queen Anne house. The photo above was taken recently after a fresh coat of cream-colored paint was applied. The new owners should be taking possession after the holidays. The house did operate briefly as a B&B some years ago. It will be fun to watch what the months ahead will bring.
The FRHS announced an exciting donation to the Borden archive today. The following appears on the FRHS Facebook page and is very exciting. How can we wait until August 4th?
“Lizzie Borden’s home: Extremely rare photograph discovered! Lizzie Borden had this green and gilt “Maplecroft” seal made for use on her correspondence — a rare example of her personal style during her years in that residence. Now we are excited to report that a truly unique photograph taken inside the French street mansion while Lizzie lived there has been given to the FRHS! It’s the only suchphoto ever to have surfaced, and anyone with an interest in Lizzie will find it fascinating. For the first time, we have a partial but revealing glimpse of the interior of her home. And the subject of the photo – something Lizzie apparently cherished — helps to debunk one of the biggest myths perpetuated about her.
Donated by a descendant of Lizzie’s personal maid, Ida S. Carlson, the photo came to us with impeccable provenance. Lizzie hired a professional photographer to capture the compelling image and had it mounted in an ornate frame, and around 1899 she gave it to Ida, who displayed the treasured piece in her home until her death, at which time it was acquired by a relative.
The photo will make its debut at the FRHS at a special exhibit opening on August 4, 2014, where it will join a collection of other recently acquired Borden-related items of note. Mark your calendar, and be sure to come and take our informative tour about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden!” (Posted April 22, Facebook).
Much has been speculated about why Lizzie chose to have this particular hymn sung at her wake at Maplecroft. Here is yet another, and very romantic version about the background on the hymn- one which probably appealed to Lizzie who was somewhat sentimental.
Vida Turner, who sang the hymn as requested, then never mentioned it again, would be amazed that it is still a topic of interest and discussion so many years later. Perhaps there is no secret message here- it may simply have been the romantic story behind the writing of it which captured Lizzie’s attention.
The little note is a good window into the personality of Emma as being a practical person, religious, and also caring as to the welfare of her friends and those who furnished services for her comfort. Lizzie also concerned herself with the well-being and comfort of servants and staff. The small, neat handwriting is refined and ladylike. By 1897 leg o’ mutton sleeves had grown very big as fashion dictated before disappearing altogether by the turn of the century.
“I received your message last evening and think you are very kind to remember me. I hope to be in the country some this summer so think one dress will be all I need. India or China silk are useful as any thin dress and if you will bring a pattern of something with dark ground,something suitable for church wear and for calling. I will go to see you the middle of the week-I suppose you will be home by that time.
I hope this wind will go down before night that you may have a pleasant and safe passage to New York.
Truly yours, Emma L. Borden “
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.
Since the publication of this 1916 photograph in the Fall River Herald, there has been much discussion about every detail shown in the picture, from furnishings to Lizzie’s dress, and the little dog she is holding. Boston Bull Terriers were admitted to the Kennel Club in 1893, and looked quite different from the familiar black and white version seen today. Some were even brindle-colored. Lizzie would have three in her lifetime, and the one she holds here is more reflective of the Victorian version of the breed. For more about this fascinating topic for the animal-loving W&W readers, visit this link http://www.victorianbostonbulldog.com/breed-history.html
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!
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?
Although Fall River may not have enjoyed the annual Easter Parade famous to Fifth Avenue, New York, Easter Sunday morning was a grand opportunity for ladies to promenade down the aisle in their new chapeau at church, and later in the many parks in the city. Hats were de rigeur during Lizzie’s entire lifetime and she no more would have left the house without a hat on, than have left uncorseted. Hats and gloves were the mark of a lady. Lizzie even mentions that on August 4th, the day of the murders, when she returned from the barn loft looking for lead to make sinkers, she put her hat down in the diningroom before discovering her father on the sofa.
Lizzie could easily afford a personal milliner when she moved to Maplecroft. Mr. Bump, accompanied by his little daughter, would visit Maplecroft with trims and hat forms when Lizzie needed something new and stylish. She may have subscribed to The Delineator to keep up with all the styles. Fun to think of Lizzie smiling over French ribbon, Italian straw boaters, felt cloches, and boxes of silk flowers and feathers in the comfort of her beautifully-appointed home on the Hill and making her choices for the season’s head adornments.
April 15, 1912 was a morning the world awoke to the seemingly impossible news that the new White Star liner, the latest word in ship-building technology, was on the bottom of the North Atlantic. At Maplecroft, in the comfort of her breakfast nook off the kitchen, or perhaps in her blue, floral-papered dining room, Lizzie Borden must surely have read the news in her Providence Journal or Fall River Herald and was as shocked and disbelieving as the rest of the world. The sinking would be the talk in every city, town and village for many months to come.
With the great city of Boston so close to Fall River, some passengers aboard the ill-fated liner were Boston-bound after the ship was to have docked in New York city and some Fall Riverites knew or had connections to some of the lost and survivors. Some passengers called Massachusetts home, some were coming to Massachusetts from the old country for a better life.
The last first class survivor of the disaster, Marjorie Newell Robb, lived to be 103 and passed away on Highland Avenue at the Adams House in Fall River. She was a girl of nineteen on the ship and was returning home with her father and sister to their home in Lexington, Massachusetts. http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/the-titanic-sisters.html
Her son, Newell Robb, was curator of the Fall River Marine Museum for a time, and the family made their home in nearby Westport. Mrs. Marjorie Robb had lived near the water at Westport Point until she was unable to live alone. She was a frequent speaker at area schools, churches and civic groups. She attended several conventions of Titanic societies and held audiences spellbound with her clear recollections of the disaster.
Today the Fall River Marine Museum has an excellent display of Titanica, as well as the 28 foot model of the ship used in the Barbara Stanwyck film from the 1950’s, TITANIC. The museum is a part of the Battleship Cove complex and houses many fascinating artifacts of the Fall River Line and Andrea Doria. http://www.marinemuseum.org/home.html
Cropped images courtesy of Ancestry.com, click on image to enlarge.
1900– Annie Smith, aged 29 born in Massachusetts, parents from Ireland
John H. Tatro (Tetrault) 37 coachman, born in Rhode Island
1910: Housekeeper Mary S. Boucher aged 35 born in New Jersey , Mary A.J. Reynolds aged 32, English
1920 Helen Smith aged 36 born in Scotland, came to America in 1909, Ellen “Nellie Miller” aged 30, English, came to America in 1891
From 1893 until 1927 when Lizzie Borden died and was waked at her impressive home at 306 French Street, she was never truly alone at Maplecroft, even after sister Emma left suddenly and without full explanation being known. Along with Lizzie’s beloved canaries and Boston bull terriers was the constant presence of a housekeeper, which at times, must have been the only other human presence walking through the spacious halls. Maplecroft saw a parade of handymen, carriage drivers, chauffeurs, delivery and service people, and men to do odd jobs and repairs. But surely it was her housekeeper, who slept on the third floor, within easy call of Lizzie’s second floor bedroom which provided a secure and reassuring presence when winter nights closed in early.
Hannah Nelson was born in Sweden on August 24, 1870, the daughter of Philomena and Phi Nelson. She was ten years younger than Lizzie, and when she came to work at Maplecroft in 1903, she was the same age as Lizzie when Lizzie was acquitted of double homicide in a New Bedford court. It would be Hannah who lived through some difficult times when Emma disagreed with Lizzie’s way of life at Maplecroft, and it would be Hannah who stayed on with Lizzie in the big house long after Emma had quitted it forever and the two sisters parted company.
Hannah stayed on until her death on July 3, 1908. She died at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence at the young age of 37. Lizzie had written worried letters to friends about Hannah’s declining health and welfare, and in the end, Lizzie would be the one to step forward to tend to Hannah’s care and burial.
The spot chosen to lay her to rest is located on a peninsula of land with a view of a little cove and river and to the east, a winding estuary. Ancient Little Neck Cemetery, in Riverside is secluded, private, and filled with fascinating historical figures of the Past. Some stones there pre-date the 1700’s, the official date of the cemetery being given as 1755. The headstone is invisible to anyone who travels down the narrow lane as it is located on the other side of a fieldstone wall, on the slope of an embankment. Only the zinc headstone of the Tillinghasts can be seen from the road above it. The view of the little estuary is Hannah’s outlook for eternity. A small child’s headstone is in the same little square plot and has names of several children, who are not related. Hers is a single grave, hidden in a secret place. What is most memorable is the one word on the top of the stone- SISTER.
The granite is of the best variety- “Rock of Ages” from Barry, Vermont. The stone is plain and unremarkable but for the one word on the top. Was Hannah like a sister to Lizzie after her own sister Emma had left? Was Hannah a companion and comfort as well as a housekeeper? Yet one more mystery about Lizzie Borden and what really transpired behind the shuttered doors of Maplecroft.
Hannah was also remembered by Lizzie in the naming of one of her beloved pet terriers, Royal Nelson, buried in Pine Ridge pet cemetery at Dedham.
Thanks to Michael Znosko, a font of knowledge on the history of this part of the world, and a recent story http://www.eastbayri.com/detail/141281.html about paupers graves in the Ancient Little Neck Cemetery, Will Clawson (photographer), and Len Rebello (Lizzie Borden Past and Present) for assistance and biographical material.
click on this link to go directly to the feature.
The cast enjoyed a great day at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum as they, for the 14th year, adapted the facts of the case for performance to the public. Tickets were sold out well before the afternoon, with starting times on the half hour this year. An exit poll was given to the visitors and over 60 % of those who filled out the form decided Lizzie was the guilty party, with Uncle John Morse coming in a distant second. There was a drawing at the end of the day for a gift certificate to the popular B&B. Some of the cast is shown above after the day was ended, before being treated to a tour of all floors of Lizzie’s home on French St., Maplecroft. It was a big day for all things Lizzie with the new exhibit also debuting at the Fall River Historical Society. For more about the day visit the Fall River Herald site article http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x84685033/Fall-Rivers-infamous-Borden-murders-reenacted-on-118th-anniversary
More script details and cast photos coming soon!
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.
Fall River musician, Don Hammontree may not be a Fall River native, but he certainly knows the city and its history. With a folk-rock, “alternative” sound, Hammontree has released three CDs, Mount Hope Days in 2003, The Mumbai in 2005 and the latest, Brutalist School in 2010. You can sample Mp3 offerings, including “Maplecroft” on the Mount Hope Days CD at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hammontree
To hear about Don’s next performance live, visit his MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/donhammontree
The IMDB (International Movie Data Base) has likened Bette Davis’ portrayal of Charlotte Hollis in Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte to the life of Lizzie Borden. The 1964 film was a box office hit, and the haunting theme of the same name recorded by Patti Page enjoyed great success for years after.
Charlotte Hollis is a reclusive spinster living in a decaying old mansion, who is believed by the citizens of her small city, to have murdered her suitor (a married man). The circumstances appear to have been a murder/suicide with Charlotte’s formidable father as the culprit who puts both an end to Charlotte’s lover and then to himself. Did Charlotte kill her true love (played by Bruce Dern) ? The town thinks she was guilty and that she got away with murder. The method of dispatch was a large, sharp meat cleaver, with the head and hand of Charlotte’s beau being savagely hacked off, reminiscent of the removal of the heads of Abby and Andrew Borden in Oak Grove Cemetery on August 11, 1892 to be stored as evidence.
Olivia DeHavilland plays Miriam, Charlotte’s refined, gentle cousin- an Emma Bordenesque, sisterly presence who harbors a dark, dark twisted secret, along with the trusted family doctor of many years played by Joseph Cotten ( an 1892 parallel to Dr. Bowen?!) There are plenty of turns and twists along the way, many witnessed by the household domestic servant, played superbly by Agnes Moorehead, who tries to protect Charlotte – not quite a Bridget Sullivan, ( the Borden’s household domestic who was home the day of the Borden killings) but still an interesting parallel.
The gossipings and whisperings of the townfolk in front of Charlotte’s house as well as behind closed doors and on the street harken back to the Fall River crowds on Second Street in 1892-93 and even later to French Street when Lizzie moved into Maplecroft.
The end of the film is very satisfying as we, the viewer, are privy to the real story of what happened in 1927 in the Hollis summerhouse (1927 also being the year of Lizzie Borden’s death). There are three more murders over the course of the film. Unlike the Borden story however, we find out the truth in the end. To view the murder scene with cleaver, visit this Youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9csL2GVU1Y