Second Street Happenings
All the doings at #92 Second Street
The temperature is rising, the pears are getting ripe and attention turns once again to the doings of August 4. 1892 in Little Old Fall River. The Pear Essential (PEP-PY) Players welcome two new members this year in the roles of Alice Russell, the Borden sisters’ bosom friend, and Dr. Dolan, medical examiner, played by husband and wife team of Ted and Loretta Sisco. The couple have been vistors at the house for several years and will take the plunge this year on August 4th! The Usual Suspects will be making a return this year in the old familiar roles and a few undertaking new character roles. Advance tickets may be reserved beginning on July 5th for the Monday, August 4th schedule of eight performances at 10:30, 11, 11:30, 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3. Call the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum at 508-675-7333 to reserve tickets. Reservations are recommended as performances sell out early every year. Miss Carol Ann Simone will reprise her role as Miss Lizzie for her third year running. Did she do it? You decide!!
CAST FOR 2014
Miss Porter/FR Herald JoAnne Giovino Abby Borden Robin Bertoldo/Shelley Dziedzic Andrew Borden Emma Borden Danielle Cabral Lizzie Borden Carol Ann Simone Dr. Dolan, M.E. Ted Sisco Mrs. Bowen Ellen Borden Mrs. Kelly Kat Woods Mrs. Burt/Nosey Neighbor Shelley Dziedzic Officer Harrington Rick Bertoldo Marshal Hilliard Ray Mitchell Miss Manning/FR Globe Barbara Morrissey John Morse Joe Radza Alice Russell Loretta S. Sisco Detective Seaver Michael Shogi Bridget Sullivan Suzann Rogers Undertaker Winward Jerry Pacheco
The Pear Essential Productions’ annual August 4th dramatization at the Borden house will have a few new faces this year. Mike Shogi, from Cleveland will be directing this year for the first time as long-time producer-director and script writer Shelley Dziedzic steps down after a long run. She will still assist with ticket sales, script and costuming.
There will be some big changes in casting this year as well as a few old familiar faces reprising their usual roles. Stay tuned for more cast announcements here.
Below: The cast from August 4, 2012.
After the annual August 4th dramatization by the Pear Essential Players, visitors on tour at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum were asked to fill out an exit poll and give any comments they wished to leave. Some of the results were surprising and humorous.
Lizzie Guilty 55, Lizzie Innocent 11, Lizzie undecided or neutral 1, Uncle John Morse Guilty or Involved 24, Billy Borden, Guilty 1, Typhoid Mary 1, Emma Borden Guilty 1, Hired Professional Killer 1, Bridget Sullivan Guilty 6, Uncle John and Bridget together 1.
Motives ran the gamut: greed and hatred of stepmother, money and revenge, secret love affair between Lizzie and her Uncle John, mental instability, resentment, payback, anger, jealousy, incest, left out of will, freedom, and envy of her wealthy girlfriends on the Hill.
Other suspects considered were: an evicted tenant of Andrew Borden’s, and Lizzie and Bridget working together, Bridget aiding in the cover-up.
One very interesting motive for murder proposed was the effect that “overly busy patterns on the wall paper and carpeting brought on mental stress”, as did the killing of Lizzie’s “pet raven” which was probably confused with the pigeons Andrew Borden killed by wringing their necks.
Under the category of weapon, all agreed on HATCHET, with one writer filling in the word “Sufficient”!
For the most part all agreed that the murders would never be solved, with only two claiming confidence that they would be.
After the performances ended, there was a drawing for an overnight stay for two at the B&B. The Aruda family, who live in Fall River, won. The cast of 16 was the largest ever since the B&B opening in 1996. Carol Ann Simone debuted as Lizzie this year to an appreciative crowd. Tickets had sold out by lunch time.
For those who cannot get enough of the Borden Case, this will be a four-star weekend featuring the annual dramatization at the house on Second Street ( tickets on sale now at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast) and a VERY special exhibit which opens on August 4th and runs through September 30th at the Fall River Historical Society. For Letterboxers, a special letterbox will be hidden in Fall River to mark the 120th anniversary of the historic crime. Atlasquest.com will have the clue, so bring your stamp and notepad, an inkpad is provided in the box. To see the clue type Fall River, MA in the locator box at the Atlasquest.com site. Got Lizzie? And how!
The house on Second Street had a special weekend guest when horror-thriller actress Brinke Stevens was in town for a premiere of her latest film at Durfee High. Brinke is working on a new Borden-related film project where she will play Abby Borden. Today she visited her “namesake” at Oak Grove and had a whirlwind tour of all Borden sites and sights in the city including Maplecroft, the Fall River Historical Society and the Gray-Whitehead Fourth Street house. She went back to California tonight with plenty of reading material, leaving lots of new friends back in Fall River.
With LeeAnn back at the house
Once a year the only dedicated amateur Bordenian thespian troupe gathers to put on their dramatization of events at the Borden house on August 4th. There will be a new Lizzie this year and a few other new faces. The amateur performers come together from all over the country only once a year on the 4th for this event. The group was founded in 1993 and the cast has increased every year with this year’s cast featuring 16 character roles. Tickets may be reserved by calling the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum at 508-675-7333. Major credit cards accepted. Tickets can be reserved for you in the giftshop for pick-up on the day of the event or purchased during giftshop hours. Don’t be disappointed-tickets sell out fast!
Abby Borden- Shelley Dziedzic
Andrew Borden- Don Sykes
Lizzie Borden- Carol Ann Simone
Emma Borden- Barbara Morrissey
Uncle John Morse- Joe Radza
Bridget Sullivan- Suzann Rogers
Marshal Hilliard- Ray Mitchell
Officer Phil Harrington- Mark Lomastro
Dr. Bowen- Jack Sheridan
Mrs. Phebe Bowen- Ellen Borden
Addie Churchill- JoAnne Giovino
Dr. Dolan- Michael Shogi
Miss Manning- Eliza Marks
Nellie Bly, Intrepid Globe-Spanning Reporter- Katrina Shogi
Undertaker Winward- Jerry Pacheco
Alice Russell- Kristin Pepe
The article on Mrs. Lawdwick (Ladowick, Ladwick, Lodowick. etc.) Borden is still a much-visited link on Warps and Wefts. http://lizziebordenwarpsandwefts.com/the-four-wives-of-lawdwick-borden/
The tragic tale of Mrs. Eliza Darling Borden, (Lizzie’s great-uncle’s second wife who had died by the time Lizzie was born) throwing her three children in the cellar cistern, then stepping behind the chimney and slitting her throat is one which captures attention. The incident in 1848, and the mention of it at Lizzie’s trial keeps the curiosity alive about that house. The graves of the two little ones who died, and their troubled mother, are visited more often now at Oak Grove Cemetery. They are directly across the road from the Southard Miller and Dr. Bowen’s plots.
A few weeks ago, the Muttoneaters, at their annual gathering, were invited to see the old cellar where the tragedies took place. The staircase is steep, and probably original.
Today it is used as a family room and traces of the original layout are hard to find. The eastern room is now a small laundry with washer and dryer. The main room which is accessed at the bottom of the steep stairs has a fireplace, the infamous chimney now covered by a brick wall to the ceiling. One unusual feature is the floor -to-ceiling woodworking which is surprising and beautifully rendered into small shelves, cabinets and little drawers. The owners, aware that Dr. Kelly once lived here, thought perhaps the doctor’s home surgery or consulting room may have been located here, the numerous storage spaces used for instruments and medical equipment. Dr. Kelly raised a happy family of three children here, and now the room is again filled with laughter and children- all vestiges of that dreadful day in 1848 gone.
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
Popular Travel Channel program, The Dead Files, will be making a visit to the Borden house. Ghosthunters and psychics are nothing new at #92 but this show has a different slant. According to the channel web site –
“On The Dead Files, physical medium Amy Allan and retired NYPD homicide detective Steve Di Schiavi, combine their unique and often conflicting skills to solve unexplained paranormal phenomena in haunted locations across America.”
Ms. Allan, will “go into the house cold” and form impressions and hopefully channel information about what happened in 1892. It is up to NYPD detective Di Schiavi to investigate actual factual data to support her findings. Air date for this program has not been released, but it will be posted here when the time has been set. To learn more about the investigation team visit http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/the-dead-files/articles/meet-amy-and-steve
The temps are falling and the long quiet season has arrived. After the excitement of the release of Parallel Lives in November, the Victorian house tour in December and virtually a year’s worth of Lizzie suspense, we’re all looking for January adventures. Many of us are reading the massive volume, Parallel Lives. Down on Second Street, the B&B is only open weekends for overnighters although the day tours continue through the week. The B&B web site has had an overhaul. Re-runs of last year’s paranormal sessions at #92 are in full tilt on television, no update on the Chloe Sevigny HBO mini-series has been released yet, and the historical society is closed for the winter.
“Axed”, two one-act plays has debuted and will be running this month http://www.pressherald.com/life/go/on-the-case_2012-01-05.htm No new ideas here, but a fresh treatment. January is a great time for catching up on our Lizzie reading and some new entries in the historical crime arena. W&W recommends Murder and Mayhem in Essex County by Robert Wilhelm. Murder and mischief was alive and well in Massachusetts long before Miss Lizzie! http://www.murder-in-essex.com/ If the name sounds familiar, Mr. Wilhelm also publishes the popular vintage crime blog, Murder by Gaslight and The National Nightstick, all great reading for the amateur armchair sleuth on a cold winter’s night. http://murderbygasslight.blogspot.com/ and http://www.snakeoilgraphics.com/NightStick/ Stay tuned for reviews. Here’s wishing you a cozy January by the fire and a good wallow in crimes of the Past.
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.
“Abby & Lizzie” on the sofa during the filming for Ghost Adventures
The spirits were restless last week at the Borden house! My Ghost Story crew checked in on Sunday the 21st. This is a program featured on the Biography Channel. http://myghoststory.com/ Monday- Thursday morning, the well-known crew from Ghost Adventures were in residence with equipment for their “lock down”. Fans of host, Zack, knocked on the door of #92 and looked longingly through the windows hoping for a glimpse of the handsome host. Word has it that some interesting EVPs were captured by the team. This weekend, as hurricane Irene blasted the Northeast, Jeff Belanger, lecturer and author of paranormal books camped out for the weekend. http://www.jeffbelanger.com/ All in all, the old house on Second Street had an exciting time of it and weathered the hurricane without incident. Air dates for these programs featuring the Borden house have yet to be announced.
The front page of the Fall River Herald for August 4th featured a large colored photo of Kathleen Troost-Cramer and Barbara Morrissey as Lizzie and Emma Borden on the day of the infamous murders re-enacting the news about the killing of their father and stepmother. The front page also featured a headline of the Dow down to the lowest point since 2008 and news of bacteria levels in the Taunton River. At least one of the stories was old news from 1892.
Ray Mitchell as city marshal Rufus Hilliard. Story by Deborah Allard.
The Cast for 2011
Lizzie Borden: Kathleen Troost-Cramer
Detective Seaver: Ben Rose
Abby Borden: Shelley Dziedzic (flat on the floor)
Andrew Borden: Nicole (under the sheet)
Bridget Sullivan Suzanne Rogers
Emma Borden: Barbara Morrissey
Addie Churchill: JoAnne Giovino
Alice Russell: Kristin Pepe
Uncle John: Joe Radza
Dr. Dolan: Michael Shogi
Undertaker Winward Richard Marr-Griffin
Miss Manning from the Herald: Christina Lambertson
Internationally acclaimed world reporter, Nellie Bly- Katrina Shogi
Marshall Hilliard; Ray Mitchell
Mrs. Dr. Bowen: Ellen Borden
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.