Second Street Happenings

All the doings at #92 Second Street

  • Headboard Revisited

    Some other observations which came in today reveal a few more headboard sightings!

    1. Lady with a hatchet

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    2. Two winged angels mourning over a Death’s Head skull

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    3. Two screaming faces: A male

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    Face 2 : A female
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    Next stop: the guest room headboard!
  • What’s in the headboard?

    Guests visiting the bed and breakfast at #92 who stay in the Abby and Andrew Borden room get a thrill finding the hidden cat face and skull in the headboard.  The antique Renaissance Revival walnut bed with the high headboard features burled insets where these strange figures can be seen.  Most recently a guest spied a skull at the base of the cat face.  Can you spot it?

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    and the skull at the base of the cat face

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    This much-requested room receives a good many comments from overnight guests of meowing, “something jumping on the foot of the bed”, purring and other feline sounds.  The story goes that Lizzie may have killed Abby Borden’s  cat by decapitation or chloroform.  In any event, the stuffed kitty on the bed is said to move around in the night and has made such an impression, visitors now bring it toys.

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  • Fresh and New for the New Year!

     During the month of December #92 has been closed down for renovations. All three floors have enjoyed repairs to wallpaper, moldings, woodwork and trim and a fresh coat of ivory paint.  When the paintwork was scraped down to the wood, the color proved to be a warm ivory-not white.  Another great improvement is the new shade of cream in the bathroom of the Abby and Andrew suite on the second floor- replacing what could only be remembered as a bileous Pepto Bismol Pink!

    Some may miss the oozing red stain on the third floor chimney in the Knowlton room- but most will get a better night’s sleep for its absence which was reminiscent of dripping blood and very unsettling. The painting crew from Newport, experienced in refreshing historic homes has done a great job and the old house never looked better!

  • It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

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     The wind whipped the flags along the route 195 overpass this morning as Fall River temperatures plunged.  With lows expected tomorrow of 8- 14 degrees and snow on the way, guests at the Borden house hunkered down with extra blankets last night.

    Decorating has begun in earnest at #92 in preparation for the open house on December 16th.  Tickets are available for the five house, five historic property tour at New Boston Bakery on New Boston Road, which was also decorated today in fine style with a Victorian theme.  The apple turnovers are worth the trip. Appreciative customers sat around the large tree in the window drinking just about anything hot in a cup.  Old Yankees grumbled on street corners and muttered ominously about the Farmer’s Almanac predictions for a snowy winter 2007-8  – just like the ones they used to know. . . .

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  • Drab by any other name is still awfully drab

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    When it came time to choose the color to paint the Borden house after the sale to the current owners, there was much discussion as to what shade to select.  Newspaper descriptions and other sources cite the house color as “drab”- a popular Victorian catch-all term for a gray-brown-olive nondescript color.  Army khaki fatigue uniforms may come close to the color.  The current shade of green on the house is very snappy, but a little greener than was probably found in 1892.  However, if you have a good look at the underside of the floorboards in the cellar of the house, a very convincing drab shade can still be seen which is probably the right shade.  The trim was said to be painted a darker shade of the same color.

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  • Diggers and Fillers on Second Street

    Although the air was frosty and the ground beginning its autumnal freeze, the steamshovels were hard at work excavating the foundations for the new court house across the street from the Borden house on Friday.  Last photo taken from the third floor of the Borden house.

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  • First Meeting of The Second Street Irregulars

    November 9th-10 marked the inaugural meeting of a group of Borden historians from all over the U.S. who gathered at the scene of the crime in Fall River at the Borden house on Second Street.  The group, modeled along the lines of the Sherlockian Baker Street Irregulars, visited important Lizzie-related sites around town, the courthouse where the 1893 trial took place, and Fairhaven where Lizzie’s sister Emma proved her alibi.  Composed of members of The Lizzie Borden Society Forum, http://lizzieandrewborden.com/LBForum/index.php

     the group, chapter named “Mutton Eaters”, (in tribute to the Borden breakfast on the day of the murders) will meet 2-3 times a year and will feature special guest lectures and field trips.  Photo below is taken in the jury box at the New Bedford Courthouse where Lizzie was acquitted in June of 1893.

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  • Victorian Christmas on The Hill

    christmas_fr.jpg    Once again the Fall River Preservation Society will be presenting a holiday house stroll featuring the beautiful “Painted Ladies” of The Hill section of the city and the Borden home on Second Street.  Last year was such a success with hayrides, carollers, refreshments and the Historical Society’s annual Christmas display at the Rock and Maple Street corner, this year’s tour of the stately homes, filled with antiques and holiday decorations, promises to exceed all expectations. The Second Street Irregulars will be attending, as many as can in costume, for a glimpse of the Past, history, architecture, good company and great food.  http://www.fallriverpreservation.org/events.php

  • Fall River Doings

    earthmover.jpgsecondstreet.jpgYesterday The digging began in earnest for the new courthouse on Second Street on Halloween.  The steam shovel at times seemed to be halfway to China, buried in the deep trench. 

    In other local news, the Fall River Herald and the Fall River Historical Society have pooled efforts to create a Remembering Fall River blog for natives to share photos and memories of the fine old city over the years.  Best wishes on this effort-it’s time Fall Riverites sang their own praises when others of us “aliens” have enjoyed blogging about the Spindle City for a long time!!

    http://www.heraldnews.com/homepage/x1633051993

  • All Treats-No Tricks!

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    Lizzie 101 UMASS tours the Borden cellar 

    It was a mild evening for the trick or treaters.  The temps were in the low 60’s, a balmy breeze, with puffy white clouds scudding across a dark grey sky furnished the ideal backdrop to a perfect Halloween.  At Second Street the table in the diningroom (where once Mr. and Mrs. Borden were laid out on undertakers’ boards for two and a half days) was now the scene for a table decorated in festive holiday style.  Crows and bats, skulls and rats, cupcakes with mummy faces, popcorn balls and cookies, spider cakes and candy corn, cider and other treats awaited the ten guests planning to try to stay the whole night.

    Vampires and cats, the Bride of Frankenstein and Frankie too called at the house as well as pirates, super heroes, witches, ghosties, and one very tired little 3 year old pumpkin dared to cross the threshold in search of treats.  It had been an exciting day with segments on both the Today Show and the Montel Williams Show about the Borden house.  Dr. Betty Mitchell also brought her class from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth for a special tour of the house by author and historian, Leonard Rebello. The class was all freshman girls – with lots of questions to ask.  Dr. Mitchell teaches a class in “Lizzie 101” and is a well-respected authority often seen in documentaries about the case.

     Guests from Ohio, Vermont, Connecticut, Michigan, and New Jersey enjoyed a tour of the house at 8 p.m. followed by a midnight seance in the sitting room in front of the sofa where Mr. Borden met his untimely end.  Next to August 4th, the anniversary of the Borden crime, Halloween is the most popular time of year to come to visit the scene of the crime.

  • “Will do windows”

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    A most important element in the Borden case involves the washing of the first floor windows by the Borden’s Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan.  Bridget was accustomed to doing the windows about twice a month inside and out.  The house was located on a busy street with much horse and carriage traffic.  On the morning of August 4th, Bridget had been asked by Abby Borden to wash the windows -a job which she commenced about 9: 15 with a brush and pole and pail, telling Lizzie she could lock the screen side door and that she could get water from the barn.  Later on Bridget came in the house again for a dipper.  The screen door on the side of the house was possibly unlocked for the entire time Bridget was doing windows and chatting up the Kelly maid, Mary Doolan, next door. Had Lizzie locked the door, entry by an intruder would have been effectively blocked.  Bridget had commenced washing the lower right quadrant of this window pictured above when Mr. Borden pounded on the front door to be let in somewhere around 10:40-10:45 a.m. As her hands were wet, Bridget had some trouble manipulating the triple lock, swearing at it under her breath.  Bridget would at first say Lizzie laughed at her from the top of the stairs – later she would say “I don’t know where the girl was” when Andrew came home.  This is one of only four original casement double-hung windows in the house.  Of particular interest is the “pinch lock” which must be compressed in order to slide the window up and down in the wooden groove.  All other windows have been replaced with modern screens and fittings.

  • Montel Williams Show Visits #92

    On Friday, October 19th, a film crew arrived to shoot interior footage of the Borden house and interview staff for a special Halloween “Spooky Places” segment for the Montel Williams Show.  The show will feature an appearance by reknown psychic Sylvia Browne and the co-owner of Second Street, LeeAnn Wilber.  The episode may be aired either Wednesday, October 24 or October 31st.  The date will be announced as soon as it is finalized. 

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  • A real black cat at Lizzie’s

    max.jpg Apparently this black cat is not afraid of hatchets or chloroform. As the legend goes, Lizzie may have tried either on Abby Borden’s kitten.  Max, the sleek jet black kitty who lives in Dr. Kelly’s house next door, makes frequent trips to visit the Borden barn and welcomes visitors and overnight guests at the house.  From time to time Max startles the staff by creeping stealthily into the cellar and meowing plaintively.  

    max2.jpg  Max has one white toe, likes a tummy scratching, and is a real Halloween “decoration” around the place.  Good kitty.

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  • Home Beautiful !

    woman-opera-glasses.gif  December will usher in exciting new improvements at #92.  All of the moldings, doors and trim will be carefully sanded and repainted by restoration professionals during the first week of the month, period lighting fixtures have been ordered for the downstairs rooms, and Second Street will once again be on Fall River’s Christmas House Tour! 

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  • Truth or Myth?

    blaccat.gif Along with the pear motif found all over #92 Second Street at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, are black cats. 

    They are in the guest room, in the parlor, in the Borden’s room, in the kitchen and gift shop.  The “Phantom Kitty” has taken on a life of its own as guests in Abby and Andrew’s bedroom swear they hear a cat meowing plaintively in the walls or jumping up at dawn on the foot of the old Renaissance Revival bed and “treading” and purring loudly.  When unnerved guests dare to have a look- there is nothing there!  Some guests even leave catnip mice or balls for the Phantom Feline in hopes of being favored with a nocturnal visit.   

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    All of this seems to stem from the story that Lizzie had either chloroformed or decapitated Abby’s kitten many years ago.  Naturally black cats are unlucky as the legend goes, so Abby’s cat has now become the black kitten.  True or false?  Hard to know, except that Lizzie loved animals and left a great deal of money for their care in her will.  Still- it makes a great Halloween story!

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  • The Missing Note

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    On the advice of their attorney, Emma and Lizzie offered a reward of $500 for the writer of the note, the person who was “sick in town”,  or the boy who delivered the note telling Abby she was needed on the morning of August 4, 1892.  Nobody ever came forward to claim the small 1892 fortune. 

     When the Lizzie Borden B&B opened, the missing note was soon placed on the sitting room mantel by Sally McGinn which is still there to this day as a lucky talisman for the house.

  • Lizzie in the Parlor

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    A recent addition to the Borden parlor on Second Street is a painting which has been attracting many critiques and comments from visitors and overnight guests.  Michelle Marie F. Frament is the name on the artist’s business card.  The artist has an almost iconic look about some of her canvases, and her portrayal of Lizzie has produced some lively discussion : everything from “Picasso-like” to “Her hands are too big and those arm positions are impossible!”  The painting will be on display for a limited time.

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