The Eagle Reopens and Lizzie Comes Home


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What a wonderful day for Fall River with the newly- renovated Eagle’s building reopening as an arts and events center and the Fall River performance of Lizzie Borden Live.  Fittingly, on the anniversary of Lizzie’s return to Fall River triumphant from her acquittal in the New Bedford court, Jill Dalton brings Lizzie home again.

The old Eagle restaurant, built to look like the interior of the elegant Fall River Line boats was the perfect venue for small stage theatre and Lizzie Borden Live in particular, which has an intimate rapport between actor and audience. 


The Mayor and many other city officials were in attendence to support the event as well as the Mutton Eaters in costume as Borden-related characters who manned the trolleys, served hors d’oeuvres and chatted with playgoers.


The period architecture, polished and restored interiors and wonderful food by White’s restaurant were enjoyed by excited guests mingling on the mezzanine with special Lizzie cocktails created for the evening.  Miss Dalton delivered an impeccable performance, filled with nuance and subtlety-  richness and texture, which ran the gamut of emotions. At times the audience forgot to breathe, at times bursting forth with laughter and applause at little comments which Fall Riverites appreciated especially, as most are familiar with the Borden story.

All too soon it was over, the audience was thrust back into 2009.  But for 80 magical minutes the Past came alive once more as we were all treated to a new perspective on Miss Lizzie Borden and her life at Maplecroft, and Fall River opened a new door to a brighter future for the arts in the city.  Come August, the Eagle will once again host Lizzie Borden Live during the second week of August.  Best wishes to the Eagle as they begin a bright new future, and continued success to Lizzie Borden Live, and Miss Dalton, wherever she and Miss Lizzie play.  Orchids and kudos to the Donovan family for bringing back a real treasure on North Main Street and to Miss Dalton for revitalizing a Fall River legend of a different sort!

Fall River Spirit on Lizzie Play at the Eagle



(photo by Rick Snizek-Fall River Spirit)

An excellent article in the Spirit proclaims the importance of bringing back “downtown” Fall River as a place for weekend fine dining and entertainment, citing the upcoming Lizzie Borden Live production as an important step in revitalizing Main St.  To see the entire article click on this link

Lizzie Borden Live to return in August



As more seating is installed at the old Eagle restaurant on North Main Street to accommodate the sell-out crowd for Saturday night, plans have already been finalized for an encore performance in August.  The play, written and starring Jill Dalton has been performed to wide acclaim in NJ, NY, RI and Arizona, and is at long last playing to the place where it all began- Fall River, Massachusetts.  The Saturday event will begin with trolley rides circulating among area restaurants and Lizzie sites, a special Lizzie cocktail will be featured, and when the doors to the Eagle open at 6:30, a light buffet and passed hor d’oeuvre supper will be served by the Mutton Eaters (a costumed Borden history society).  Here is a portion of the Mutton Eaters’ Saturday night cast release from their website:

“The old Eagle restaurant has been beautifully converted for the occasion and a flock of Mutton Eaters will descend to be on hand to meet and greet playgoers in the lobby.  Dr. Dolan has a new derby hat for the occasion and Mrs. Borden will be circulating with a tray of hors d’oeuvres and tips for flaky pie crust!  Alice Russell, Bridget Sullivan, Emma Borden and Mrs. Churchill will have something to say about everything, and undertaker, Mr. Winward will be glancing over the crowd for prospective future business! Best news of all- Miss Lizzie Borden Live  will be returning in August- that all-important month!!”

Miz Liz-home again!


Today’s Fall River Herald offered two articles about the upcoming weekend performance of Lizzie Borden Live at the former Eagle restaurant.  The Mutton Eaters, armchair sleuths devoted to the study of the Borden case, will be on hand in costume as characters from the Past to mingle with guests and assist on trolley tours.


For more news about Lizzie Borden Live and Saturday’s activities click  on this link

Welcome Home Miss Lizzie

Lizziedover1The Eagle Performing Arts Center

35 North Main Street  

Second Floor


Lizzie Borden is coming back home to Fall River on the 116th anniversary of her acquittal in New Bedford Superior Court this June 20th.    New York writer and actress, Jill  Dalton,  resurrects the spirit of Fall River’s most infamous character in a chilling, solo performance entitled,

Lizzie Borden Live 

            “I wanted to give Lizzie a voice to tell her own story following her day in court,” stated Ms. Dalton.  “That’s something she was not able to do when she was doped up on morphine during her famous murder trial.”
    Lizzie Andrew Borden was found innocent in a court of law, but judged guilty in the court of public opinion.  She was condemned by society and shunned in her hometown.  Ms. Dalton powerfully evokes Lizzie’s emotional turmoil and psychic trauma. She wrote the play from Lizzie’s point of view so that “the audience can hear her side of the story for the first time.”
      The legend comes to life with humor, empathy and insight when Lizzie steps on stage at the Eagle Performing Arts Center on 35 North Main Street at 8 PM on Saturday, June 20th.   This production, sponsored by the Luso American Gallery of Antiquities, is funded in part by grants from the John and Abigail Adams Program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Four Cities Collaborative of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.  
      “In addition to this state support, the Mayor’s Office and the Arts Uniting Fall River collaborative have participated in the planning and promotion of this community event and fundraiser,” noted LAGOA curator, Stephen L. Cabral. “Our organization is committed to promoting the arts, preserving our cultural history and providing scholarship funds for promising students. Lizzie Borden Live will help support these goals.”
      Jill Dalton is an award winning New York actress with a long list of television and theatre credits.  She has appeared in Law and Order, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, As the World Turns, All my Children, One Life to Live and Saturday Night Live.   The East Lynne Theater Company in Cape May, New Jersey commissioned this play, which opened to standing ovations from the audience and critics alike.  Ms. Dalton won the 2007 Jacoby Award for her portrayal in Lizzie Borden Live. This dramatic crime thriller is set 13 years after the double murder at Maplecroft, the Highlands mansion Lizzie bought with money inherited from her father.  According to the Red Rock News of Sedona, Arizona: 
      “Dalton gives a compelling performance capturing the humanity, humor, irony and sadness of a woman who had time to reflect on horrific events.  She enacts a Lizzie that has never been portrayed anywhere in stage, screen or literature. ”
Fall River native son, Jack McCullough, is the director of the show, which has toured New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Arizona.  Mr. McCullough, a graduate of the Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, RI, has also made his mark on stage and screen, but prefers to work behind the scenes of Lizizie Borden Live.  Jack has envisioned this homecoming since the play first opened.  He insists that this production will make the audience think twice.
      “We are very excited about performing on stage in the heart
      of Lizzie’s old neighborhood.  Jill and Lizzie have a compelling
      story to tell.  People come to see Lizzie expecting to find a monster and instead they discover themselves.”
    Check your calendar and order your $40 tickets from LAGOA, Inc. by calling 508-673-6624.   Seating is limited to 160 so make your reservations now.  The doors of the Eagle Performing Arts Center will open at 6:30 PM.  Harpist, Judy Mitchell will set the musical tone for the night, and members of the Mutton Eaters, dressed in period garb, will greet and engage the guests at the light buffet and cash bar prior to the show.
Lizzie Borden Live challenges the audience to rethink the legend that is Lizzie Borden.  Think you know her?  Think again!  
Stephen L. Cabral, Ph.D.
Luso American Gallery of Antiquities, Inc. (LAGOA)
484 Highland Avenue, Fall River, MA  02720
Tel.  508-673-6624

Brownell House Happenings




A visit on April 24th revealed a great change to the house on Green Street where Lizzie Borden’s sister Emma was staying at the time of the murders.  The house is undergoing extensive renovations. The back kitchen annex is demolished, the heavy vegetation is removed, and the house has received siding recently. The interiors have been gutted and rewired with the walls stripped back to the studs.  The graceful staircase to the second floor just inside the front door will remain, as well as the handsome wide-planked floors and the original wide granite base slab for the front exterior stairs.  The lightening fixture shown in the entry foyer was of course added on some time after the original construction. The owner of the property who is ordering the renovation plans to move in soon.  Neighbors out on the street seem happy something is finally being done to clean up the old property.

House of Secrets




One by one, over the years, the homes on Second Street between Spring and Borden streets have been demolished.  Miraculously the Andrew Borden house has survived as well as the neighboring house to the south.  Emma and Lizzie’s good friend Alice Russell had lived in this unpreposing cape-style home and thus became well-acquainted with the Bordens.  Alice was a key witness at Lizzie’s trial, stayed with the family for some days after the murders, and testified about Lizzie burning a dress in the kitchen woodstove the day after the funerals of Abby and Andrew Borden.

On the day of the murders, Mrs. Caroline Kelly, wife of pediatrician Dr. Michael Kelly,(new occupants to the house next door) saw Andrew Borden trying to enter his home around 10:45.  She was on her way to the dentist and was probably the last non-family member to see Andrew Borden alive.  Most Borden historians still refer to the house as the “Kelly House”.

Several decades before the Borden murders, a Mrs. Ladowick Borden, depressed and at wits’ end, threw three children in the old cistern at this house.  The two young boys died, but her daughter survived. Mrs. Ladowick Borden went upstairs and slit her throat with her husband’s straight razor. Who knows why.  This is a house with dark secrets and tragedy to rival that of #92 Second Street.  And today the two houses of death and horror remain-sole survivors of the wrecker’s ball. The Kelly house is for sale-for anyone who wants a house with a history.

A banner year for Mass. Superior Court



2009 markes the 150th anniversary for the Massachusetts Superior courts.  lady-justiceMany events and displays are on tap for the year . Of particular interest is this notation on their web site

“Lizzie Borden, Redux ~ Multiple dates and locations

 New Bedford Superior Courthouse ~ September 24

Fall River Superior Courthouse ~ October 22

 Taunton Superior Courthouse ~ November 19

 Ms. Borden was acquitted of the murder of her father

and mother and no other suspect was ever identified.

The trial, which took place in 1893 in the New Bedford

Superior Court, continues to interest and intrigue the

public. Not a re-enactment but in a mock trial, Ms.

Borden will be tried again with two lawyers serving as

team prosecutors and two lawyers as team defense. The

audience will vote a verdict.”

To see a listing of all the big doings for the year visit

Lizzie Borden’s Morgan Street School

Lizzie Borden was fortunate to come of school-going age after Fall River’s post-Civil War school reform wave hit the city. The Morgan Street, School, which became the N.B. Borden School on Morgan  St. was built in 1868 and is an imposing structure.  The front roof cupola is gone now, but the wonderful woodwork still survives.  The school was closed two years ago and is now vacant and awaiting a new purpose.  There are no plans for demolition at this date. Lizzie was at school here until she was 14 ( 1874) when she went on to the Fall River High School. She became a high school drop out in her junior year.

She’s back . . . . .







Friday the 13th   thru   The Ides of March

“Sweet, innocent, witty and savagely murderous.”

Ed Wismer, Cape May Star and Wave


 ~ Columbus Theatre ~

270 Broadway, 2nd floor ~ Cinematheque

Providence, RI  02903

(Accessible by stairs only)

 …Think you know her?…Think again….


Written & Performed by: Jill Dalton

Directed by: Jack McCullough                       Music by: Larry Hochman

Lighting Design by: John P. Boomer


 Friday March 13, 2009 ~ 8:00 p.m.

 Saturday March 14, 2009 ~ 8:00 p.m.

Sunday March 15, 2009 ~ 3:00 p.m.

Advance Tickets ~ $25.00


Click on “SCHEDULE “

or purchase at the door


 JILL Dalton As: Lizzie Borden

Winner 2007 Jacoby Award:


“The nod goes to Jill Dalton for her Lizzie Borden in “Lizzie Borden Live.” She runs the gamut of emotions in her performance from that of a mild Christian woman to a ruthless murderer. Her reenactment of the murder of her mother (it was my stepmother!) and father is a chilling scene in this play and Dalton, who also wrote the script, vividly brings it to the audience.”

Jacob Schaad Jr., The Cape May Gazette



Dalton is nothing less than superb in her depiction of the character, as her Lizzie is alternating sweet, innocent, witty and savagely murderous. The audience is left to decide which Lizzie is the real one.”   Cape May Star Wave

“I heartily recommend you see Lizzie Borden Live. . . . complex and most interesting Lizzie, in the person of Jill Dalton.   

Cape May Star Wave

“Absorbing performance . . . Dalton runs the gamut of emotions from supposedly mild Christian woman to that of a ruthless murderer.” 

Cape May Gazette

“Everything from Jill’s facial features (like Lizzie herself) to the way her voice can change throughout the play makes for compelling and oddly sympathetic viewing.”   Exit Zero

“Truly superb . . . the script is fascinating. Jill Dalton is an astonishingly talented actress – she changes her mood and characters in a split second. The play should get a Pulitzer.”   

Charles Alexander, writer for Time Magazine


“Miss Dalton’s performance is a tour de force” 

 Richard Behrens, The Hatchet: Journal of Lizzie Borden Studies


“Our audience comes to see Lizzie Borden Live expecting to find a monster….

and instead they find themselves.” Jack McCullough, Director of Lizzie Borden Live



Lizzie Borden Live was originally commissioned by: East Lynn Theater Company, Cape May, NJ


Bridget’s Story


The Borden Case Fitchburg Daily Sentinel August 27, 1892

FALL RIVER Aug. 27.—The examination of Bridget Sullivan was continued

in the Borden hearing, this morning, Witness said that Mrs. Borden  told her she and and Mr. Borden were sick on Tuesday night. They had been vomiting and looked sick when Lizzie came downstairs. Lizzie said she had been sick, but witness did not notice that she looked  unwell. Witness had never seen Lizzie in tbe barn. She recognized the laugh in the upper hall way, spoken of yesterday, as that of Lizzie Borden. The night before witness ate some of the mutton soup that had been warmed over several times, and next morning felt a little sick. She went out into the yard to vomit; it was at that time that Lizzie was eating breakfast.


Witness said Mrs. Borden told her, Thursday morning, after breakfast, to wash the windows, that morning. Witness was sure Lizzie had coffee and cake for breakfast She did not read any, that morning; witness drank some milk; don’t know whether others did or not, but do know Mr. Borden had some of it on his toast in the morning.

Since the tragedies occured, she had never seen Miss Borden crying. At the conclusion of District Attorney Knowlton’s questioning, Lawyer Adams began his Cross-examination of witness. An official who stands high in the government that he has no hesitation in saying he believes Lizzie Borden guilty of the murders. He bases his judgment largely on the evidence of Bridget Sullivan at the examination, yesterday afternoon.


Bridget’s testimony and witness statement don’t do much to alleviate the suspicion of Lizzie’s guilt.  The article above records some interesting statements.  The pressing question is, of course, why did Bridget change her mind about hearing Lizzie laugh at the top of the stairs when Andrew Borden came in the front door?  At the Grand Jury Trial, Bridget will claim “I don’t know where the girl was.”  It would also be interesting to know who the official “high in the government” was who, thanks to Bridget’s testimony, was convinced Lizzie was guilty.  And then, there is the great revelation that Andrew Borden was a “milquetoast” as he saturated his toast with milk. Perhaps it was stale- along with the mutton soup.

A flaw in the Jury


An article by Lucy Stone in the Newport Mercury June 1893:

A Flaw in the Jury System.

James W. Clarke, in the New York Recorder, discussing the present jury system, makes the following sensible suggestion in behalf of a woman juror in cases where a woman is on trial. Another jury reform suggests itself in connection with the Borden jury. Here is a woman put upon trial for her life, accused of a crime the alleged motive for which was a malicious enmity of  long growth against her stepmother,with the principal witness against her a woman—the whole case from beginning to end enveloped in a womanly atmosphere,and attended by circumstances of a domestic nature, of which the average woman would instinctively,and simply because she is a woman, be a better judge than the average man—and yet there is not one woman on the jury. I know that tbe law as it stands does not permit the presence of women on juries; but why not change the law, and correct another anomaly—to my thinking, one of the greatest anomalies—of trial by jury as it exists today? The old common law theory of the jury was that every accused person had a right to be tried by a jury of his peers or equals, drawn from the vicinitywhere the crime charged against him was committed. The centuries’ old assumption that is quietly made at New Bedford is, of course, that a jury of twelve men is not only a jury of the peers and equals, but of the superiors, of any woman who may be arraigned for trial. But the nineteenth century would seem to be old enough now to concede that a woman on trial for her life or liberty has the right to have equal sex representation on the jury that is to pass upon her guilt or innocence. Slowly, perhaps, but surely, the idea is growing that a jury ought to be composed of men and women, and that a woman especially should have a jury of her peers, not her sovereigns, as in the case of Lizzie Borden. LUCY STONE.

The new face of Second Street


It’s been a rough winter in Fall River with plenty of ice and snow as the familiar name in the photo below will testify.


But work on the new court house continues slowly.  The building looms over South Main Street and the back of the building dominates Second Street just across from the Borden house.  At one time the twin spires of St. Anne’s and the single steeple of St. Mary’s were the landmarks easily spotted from the Braga Bridge top-now the court house steals all the thunder.

Nance O’Neil 1911


‘Who, in the “Lily” under Belasco’s management has demonstrated her right to be considered the great actress the admirers of her earlier work prophesied. (from American Magazine  August, 1911)’nance1911

Nance is shown with a come-hither look all decked out in Titanic-era cartwheel hat with feathers.  At this point Lizzie Borden was a long-gone memory as Nance advanced with her stage and film career. Nance, always somewhat of a spendthrift, sold her large estate in Tyngsboro, MA (where Lizzie once visited) with 250 acres of it purchased by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1907.  It is now the site for Notre Dame Academy, a co-ed Catholic school.

Baltimore hosts 200th anniversary Poefest!


Those who follow the dark side of Victoriana, murder, mystery and mayhem might consider attending some of the events marking Poe’s 200th birthday.  Although Mr. Poe’s actual birthday on January 19th has just passed, there will be many events year long.  Visit the link  to see what’s in store for 2009 – just imagine what Poe might have made of the Borden story!

The magic of Rick Geary


Rick Geary has spent a good many years as illustrator and cartoonist, capturing on paper  some pretty grisly tales from the corridors of dark history.  The Borden case caught his fancy and was immortalized as a graphic book, some years ago.  It is a must-have for fans of the case and is available on Amazon for as little as five dollars. 


Mr. Geary also produced a charming paper cutout sheet of the house on Second Street, which was, for a time available for sale at #92. It is not now so readily available.  Once selling for $1.95, the cardstock cutout, which when colored and assembled is a strikingly good facsimile of the house, is now sought after by Bordenites.  If readers know where it might be purchased- send us a comment!

Visit Rick Geary’s website at