FALL RIVER (Mass.) – New Englanders have a unique nursery rhyme: Lizzie Borden had an axe…
Now a Williamsburg-based company has taken a stake in the legend that surrounds the grizzly 1892 murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.
U.S. Ghost Adventures, a nationwide ghost tour company based out of Williamsburg, recently acquired the property that was once the Borden family home.
What happened in that house?
On August 4, 1892, Massachusetts banker, Andrew Borden, and his wife, Abby, were found bludgeoned to death in their Fall River home. Suspicion turned to Mr. Borden’s two spinster daughters, Emma and Lizzie.
It was rumored that the young women had a contentious relationship with their step-mother and that they were recently arguing with their father over money. Suspicion also turned towards the Borden’s maid, Bridget Sullivan, who was in the home at the time that the bodies were discovered.
However, most of the suspicion was placed on Lizzie. She claimed to have been in the family’s barn at the time of the murders, only later finding her father slumped over on the couch following his ghastly execution.
Despite finding a hatchet on premises that was suspected to be the murder weapon, the Fall River police did not test it for fingerprint evidence. In 1892, it was not commonplace in the United States to use the technology, which was was still considered unreliable and rudimentary for the time.
At Lizzie’s trial, the prosecution provided circumstantial evidence. They claimed that Lizzie attempted to purchase poison in the days leading up to the double murders and that she burned a dress several days following the grizzly discovery of Mr. and Mrs. Borden’s bodies.
The defense showed that Lizzie did not have a speck of blood on her and used her reputation as a well-bred Christian woman to paint her as a sympathetic defendant. The all-male jury was convinced by the defense and she was found not guilty.
Though Lizzie moved out of the Borden home, she stayed in the Fall River area until her death in 1927.
The case remains unsolved.
What about today?
Today, guests can visit the scene of the crime. The Borden’s furnishings remain in place, décor was replicated as needed, and the doors and fixtures still retain their original look. Horrifying photos of the Bordens’ bodies hang on the walls alongside other artifacts pertaining to the case.
Guests can even book an overnight stay at the murder house-turned-bed-and-breakfast.
Recently, the Williamsburg-based company, U.S. Ghost Adventures, purchased the property and plans on adding new experiences for guests.
U.S. Ghost Adventures owner and former Williamsburg resident, Lance Zaal, said, “We look forward to adding the Lizzie Borden house to our growing portfolio of haunted experiences and working with the staff to create new opportunities for guests.”
While the Borden house may have changed ownership, Zaal is committed to the house’s current staff and to preserving the legacy that put the property on the map. “A healthy transition for the staff and preserving the historical site are our top priorities,” he said.
Within the next six months, Zaal hopes to roll out the following additions to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum experience:
- Axe throwing on site
- A decision-based adventure game narrated by reenactors at the property. A bonus is that anyone can participate from their mobile device using the app, Junket, which will bring the Lizzie Borden experience to anyone around the world.
- A cemetery tour that is also offered on Junket.
- Nightly stays at the house
- Tours of the house during the daytime as well as ghost tours in the evening. There are plans to follow the evening tours with ghost hunts in the home’s basement.
- 1892-themed dinners
- An escape room during select evenings
- A variety of virtual events that people across the world can enjoy
- A 24/7 “Lizzie Cam” that will allow the public to pay a modest donation to see areas of the house.
The overall hope is to continue to tell the tale that left its lasting legacy upon Fall River and that chased Lizzie to her grave.