Daytime Tour of the Haunted Lizzie Borden House

Earlier this November I spent the night at the haunted Lizzie Borden house

in Fall River, Massachusetts. By myself. Like a crazy person. Lol (article here) Before

my stay one thing that surprised me most is how many people have never

actually heard of Lizzie Borden and her story. I can’t tell you how many

times I said I was going to be staying at the Lizzie Borden house and someone

responded with “who’s Lizzie Borden” or “what is that?” So allow me to

enlighten you on the story of Lizzie and the grizzly murders that occurred in her childhood home.

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To learn all the facts and history of this supposedly haunted home I decided to go on a daytime house tour.

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Tour Info:

Daytime House Tour

Tours run from 10am-4pm

$25/person

Lasts 90 minutes

Website

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The tour started with our tour guide welcoming us in through the front

door of the house just like the Bordens themselves would have done. I

thought this was a very nice little touch that really helped add

to the authenticity of the experience.

The house is located at 230 2nd Street, Fall River, Massachusetts 02721

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From there we walked into the foyer and directly to the left into one of the sitting rooms within the house. 

This is what you first see as you walk through the front door of the house with the staircase leading to the second floor directly to the right. Every time I walked into this room during the night the dress on the mannequin scared the crap out of me cause I thought it was a ghost. *face palm*

Authenticity is big in this house so while the furniture inside

is not the original furniture, it is all a very well done recreation. With that

being said there are some things in the house that are original

including the glass door knobs

And the radiators which were installed by Mr. Borden himself. 

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Once we were all inside our tour guide began to recount the story of the murders as

well as the trial so that is what I shall do now. Enjoy story time!

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This story begins on August 4th, 1892 where the Borden family

sat together enjoying their breakfast of spoiled mutton and johnnycakes. 

Okay….maybe enjoying is a bit of an overstatement and together is merely

a pipe dream as only Mr. and Mrs. Borden and John Morse (Lizzie’s uncle

who showed up unannounced with no luggage the previous evening) were present at the table. 

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Andrew Borden, Lizzie’s father (Anyone else think he looks like Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones? lol)

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Abby Borden, Lizzie’s step-mother

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John Morse, Lizzie’s uncle (Anyone else think he looks like the love child of Will Ferrell and Abe Lincoln? lol)

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 Lizzie’s sister Emma was away visiting friends in a neighboring town

and Lizzie refused to eat breakfast with the family (a typical occurrence)

as she did not like (hated is a more accurate word) her step-mother Abby

and didn’t want to spend any time with her if it could be avoided. 

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After breakfast the family went on their merry way. Andrew to work

(he was a very successful businessman in Fall River), John

into town, and Abby upstairs to tidy up the room where John stayed the previous night.

The John Morse room

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 A little after 9am, while she is making the bed in John’s room, Abby ran face

first into an ax. Well…okay….more like someone in the home mistook her

face for a piece of wood. She was sent spiraling to the floor where her ax-wielding

attacker then straddled her lifeless body and delivered another 17 highly

unnecessary whacks to the back of her skull. 

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WARNING: GRAPHIC CRIME SCENE PHOTOS

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Not long after the murder, Andrew returned home looking for Abby

as they had business to attend to in town and she never showed. When he

got to the house he struggled with entering the home as the heat and

humidity caused the doors to stick. Bridget Sullivan, the family’s maid

(aka Maggie as Lizzie and Emma could not be bothered to learn her real name.

Maggie was the name of their first maid), heard Mr. Borden as he struggled with

the front door and abandoned her post cleaning windows to help him open it. 

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While she tried to pry open the door, she threw out a few choice words

which, according to Bridget, was immediately followed by laughter from

Lizzie who was standing on the staircase behind her (a very important

detail in the story as you will find later). 

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Here is the front door to the house.
And the staircase Bridget claims Lizzie was standing on.

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Eventually they were able to get the door open and Mr. Borden entered

his home. He was met by Lizzie who told him Abby had received a note

and went to visit a friend. Upon hearing this news Mr. Borden decided he

would wait for Abby to return and in that time take a nap on the sofa. 

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This is the sofa Mr. Borden slept on. Not the original sofa, but an amazing recreation of it.

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Bridget was feeling ill, most likely from the spoiled mutton the whole

family had been eating for the past few days, and went

up to the attic to lay down in her bed. 

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Bridget Sullivan

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Not long after this Lizzie went back inside the house (after supposedly searching

for something out in the barn and picking pears off their tree) and walked in

to find her father murdered on the couch where he slept. 

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WARNING: GRAPHIC CRIME SCENE PHOTO

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Upon finding her father Lizzie yelled up to the maid “Maggie, come down!

Come down quick! Father’s dead. Somebody came in and killed him!” Bridget

rushed down the stairs while Lizzie made her way across the street to the family

doctor’s home. However, he was not there at this time as he was out tending

to other patients so instead of going to the houses of the other two doctors

in the neighborhood (for neither was English Protestant like the Borden’s and

their family doctor so of course they were not viable options), Lizzie returned

home. Her neighbor Mrs. Churchill saw all the commotion and asked Lizzie what

was going on to which Lizzie replied, “Oh Mrs. Churchill, do come over. Someone

has killed father.” Of course the nosy neighbor accepted this unusual invitation and stepped

into what some would later deem to be one of the most gruesome crime scenes known to man. 

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It wasn’t long before Bridget and Mrs. Churchill began asking the whereabouts

of Mrs. Borden and together the two women decided to go look for her upstairs

on the second floor. They didn’t even make it halfway up the staircase before they

saw through the railing Mrs. Borden laying face down in a dark red pool of her

own blood, her body cold (it is thought Mrs. Borden was killed 90 minutes

prior to Mr. Borden) and lifeless. 

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This photo was taken from the staircase looking through the railing just as Mrs. Churchill and Bridget would have done. You can see…between all the feet….our tour guide lying on the floor where Mrs. Borden’s body was discovered. So knowing this, if Bridget’s story about Lizzie laughing at her from the staircase is correct, then it is hard to believe that she did not see her step-mother lying there on the floor earlier that morning. Definitely does not look good for Miss Lizzie. 

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After the discovery of both bodies the police arrived along with the family

doctor who pronounced both Mr. and Mrs. Borden dead. Shocker.

However, nothing about this ordeal was swift or particularly sterile as friends, neighbors, and

multiple officers tramped through the house. There were even instances where the

bodies were altered. For it is thought an officer replaced Mr. Borden’s shoes

on his feet (during this time a man without shoes was almost as bad as a woman

showing off her ankles) and another officer pulled down Mrs. Borden’s dress and tucked it under her shoes. 

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Mrs. Borden’s body was moved down into the dining room where an autopsy

was performed while Mr. Borden’s

body was autopsied in the room where he was slain. 

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Autopsy board used during that time period. During this time autopsies and funerals were held in the home of the deceased. Really looks like this board will do a nice job at keeping all the juices from spilling out onto the floor….NOT.

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WARNING: GRAPHIC AUTOPSY PHOTOS

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While it is hard to tell this is a picture of the back of Mrs. Borden’s skull. (They shaved it in order to get a better view of the ax marks.) There were a total of 18 whacks counted.

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And here we have poor Mr. Borden. His 10 to 11 ax hits were delivered to the front of his skull leaving behind, well, not much in all honesty. A huge gaping hole and a hanging eyeball (which was cut in half) were about all that remained of his face. 

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Here is a closer look at what 10 to 11 ax whacks can do to a person’s face. 

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The police searched the house and found in the basement a broken ax with

a red substance and hair on the blade. After sending it for testing it was later

determined that the red substance was in fact rust and the hair belonged to a

cow. However, before this testing they determined that this handleless hatchet

was in fact the murder weapon and their opinion on the matter could not be

swayed even after a brand new ax was found by a young boy out in the yard

of the Bordens. A brand new ax that had clearly just recently been used as the

gold on the blade had been chipped off. And during the autopsy gold flakes

were found in Mrs. Borden’s skull. Coincidence? I think not. However, as I

mentioned the police didn’t even give this new ax a second look and threw it

out as evidence deeming the handleless hatchet the official murder weapon of choice. 

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The police questioned all who were staying in the home at the time of the

murders including Uncle John Morse, the butcher who, like I said

earlier, showed up to the Borden’s house the day before the murders unannounced and

without luggage. To me his alibi seems like it is a little too perfect with

details that many people would not normally recall including the first and last names

of the priests on the train with him (being English Protestant it was not common

for John to have spoken with the Irish Catholic priests), the number on the conductor’s

hat, and the horses’ names. However, the police found his alibi to be satisfactory.

Lizzie’s story on the other hand was a difficult one to put together as it changed

constantly and there were things she said that definitely did not add up. So not

long after the murders Lizzie was told she was a suspect and on

August 12th, 1892, was hauled away to Taunton jail. 

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Sitting where that red couch is now was where Lizzie sat and heard for the first time that she was a suspect in the murders. She was in complete shock.

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Above the piano is a portrait of Lizzie along with a picture of the Taunton jail where she was held. 

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Lizzie stayed in the jail, the only woman suspected of the capital crime of murder, for a total of 283 days. However, her time there was not one to complain about. She lived more lavishly in the jail than she did at home with indoor plumbing, a friendly cat, and a nice strong morphine supply. Where can I sign up? Lol 

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Lizzie’s trial began June 5th, 1893 with a prosecution that was dead set on

pinning these murders on her, a young entitled English Protestant girl. In front

of a jury of twelve men (women were not allowed to vote at this time so most

definitely were not allowed to sit on a jury) and a courtroom full of people, the

prosecution opened the trial with a shock tactic. District Attorney Thomas Moody

presented the skulls of Mr. and Mrs. Borden to the court which he obtained

without the knowledge of the family as Mr. and Mrs. Borden’s funerals

(which were both open caskets…my god why?) had already been held and

their bodies buried (well apparently minus their heads. Fun fact their heads

were buried later, however, instead of burying them with the bodies they decided

to bury each head 3 ft above where the bodies lay. Rest in pieces Bordens.)  

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With the hatchet, Moody began to demonstrate each blow to the skulls

themselves, sinking the blade deep into the gaping holes again and again and

again. Lizzie fainted along with multiple other people in the courtroom and

even a couple men on the jury. Talk about a shock tactic gone wrong. 

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In the bottom of this case are replicas of Andrew (left) and Abby (right) Borden’s skulls. 

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The trial lasted 8 days and after only an hour and a half of debate the jury

returned to the courtroom to deliver their verdict of not guilty. While it is

true that the majority of the evidence presented by the prosecution was

circumstantial, I think the biggest factor in Lizzie’s not guilty verdict was

the fact that she was a woman. As I mentioned before, the jury for her trial

was made up of twelve men. Twelve men who in no way believed that a

woman of Lizzie’s background could ever commit such gruesome murders.

In fact, after the trial the jury gave Lizzie a framed picture they all took

together. Perhaps this was their way of saying “don’t forget what we did for you…” 

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The top picture is the framed picture the jury gave Lizzie while the bottom two pictures are of other men involved with the case Mayor John Coughlin (right) and Marshall Rufus Willard (left). 

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After the trial, Lizzie became an outcast in her community, but that didn’t

stop her living life how she wanted. She bought a house

on “the Hill” like she always wanted with her sister Emma, which she named

Maplecroft and remained until her death in 1927 and continued to be involved

in various different charitable works, especially ones involving animals as Lizzie

was a huge animal lover. In fact, in her will she gave the Animal Rescue League

of Fall River $30,000 (which is equivalent to almost $480,000 today) and her

shares of stock in the Stevens Manufacturing Company. That money the animal

shelter received was what allowed them to remain open

and inside you will find a picture of Lizzie hanging up as a thank you.

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You can visit Maplecroft today at 306 French Street, Fall River, Massachusetts and if you absolutely fall in love with it you can purchase the property for the bargain price of around $900,000. Just know you most likely won’t be living
alone as the property is said to be haunted by Lizzie herself.

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So there’s the story of the Borden family.

However, this article doesn’t end

there! There is still more house to see! After our tour made it through the

first floor of the house it was time to go up to the second floor. 

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Our first stop on the second floor was one of the most requested rooms in the

entire house as well as the room where Abby Borden was found, the

John Morse room. This is also the room I stayed in. 

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Then we went next door to Lizzie and Emma’s rooms.

Lizzie’s room
The books in the plastic are Lizzie’s original books.
Here you can see her initials written inside one of the books. L.A.B. Lizzie Andrew Borden.

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If I remember correctly this was Emma’s room. 

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Here we have another bedroom.
This was Mr. and Mrs. Borden’s room.

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After the second floor we continued up into the attic.

These are the stairs leading up to the attic. The wooden door that goes over the top of the staircase was built by Mr. Borden. The family would shut the door in the winter to keep the heat below. Poor Bridget. 

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This is the lounge area at the top of the landing. Fun ghostie fact, people commonly report hearing the sound of children playing and laughing in this area. Hard pass to that. I don’t even really like living children let alone ghost ones! lol These children are actually thought to be the ghosts of the kids who were drowned by their mother in the house next door. Why they haunt this house is unknown, but it is believed that it is because they feel more welcomed and loved here than they ever did at home. 😥
Here is Bridget’s room, another place where you may be visited by ghost children. 
This rocking chair which sits in the corner of this room has been reported to move on its own. In fact, someone once reported waking up to the sound of children laughing and then saw the rocking chair scooched right up next to the bed rocking away. The woman who saw this promptly left the room after that and slept in her car for the rest of the night. 

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Another attic bedroom
This room is the kid’s room. If you spend the night here you will find in the corner of the room a toy box full of toys that travelers have brought into the house for the children to play with. Maybe if you are nice they will share their toys with you.

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After the attic we traipsed down to the basement (the basement is a tour add-on you can choose for $6).

Already off to a wonderfully creepy start. Why a red light man?

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This is the bedroom that I almost chose when I booked my stay. After seeing it in person I am so glad that I didn’t. There is no way you would have gotten me to stay down there. Especially after hearing about the shadow man that hangs out down there. NO WAY.

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So the cool thing about this bedroom…actually let me rephrase…a unique feature

about this bedroom is that it sits directly under where Mr. Borden dreamed his

last dream. If you look up at the rafters in the room you can still see the stains

where Mr. Borden’s blood dripped through the floor and into the basement below. 

This is the washroom where Bridget would do the family’s laundry. 
And here is their washing machine. Lol Do you see the face on the wall behind the wash basin? The owners of the home have tried to paint over the face multiple times, but no matter what they do the face keeps coming back. Creepy.
Looks like a wonderful place to do laundry. lol 

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Imma just SPRINT UP THESE STAIRS NOW. Peace basement.  Honestly the basement was my least favorite place in the whole house. I refused to go back down there during my overnight stay.

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We ended the tour in the kitchen where our tour guide showed us some

of her favorite paranormal photos that were taken in the house including

shadow people on the stairs to the attic and a full body apparition

next to the bed in the John Morse room. Loved seeing that before staying the night there. *nervous laugh*

This is the only room in the house that was renovated and doesn’t look as it did when the Bordens lived there because it needs to be able to accommodate the breakfast part of the bed and breakfast. 

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So after hearing the story here is my theory:

I personally think the jury made the right call with their not guilty verdict

solely because there wasn’t enough evidence to actually prove anything.

Don’t get me wrong though. I 100% think Lizzie did it, or at least was a

part of it. My theory is that Lizzie, Emma, and John were all working together.

Emma as the mastermind, hence why she wasn’t at the home the day of the

murders, and Lizzie and John as the murderers. I think the original plan was

to always take out Abby. If Lizzie and Emma could get rid of her then everything

their father owned would go to them since he did not have a will. (Mr. Borden

was worth what is equivalent to 8-10 million dollars in today’s money.) However,

the plan had to change when Mr. Borden came home unexpectedly. Perhaps he didn’t

really lay down to take a nap and instead started asking too many questions as to the

location of Mrs. Borden? Unfortunately we will never know exactly what happened

in that house, but that certainly won’t stop people from forming their own

opinions. Who do you think did it?

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If you ever find yourself in Fall River I highly recommend doing a house

tour of the Lizzie Borden house. Our tour guide was so knowledgeable and

did an amazing job telling us the insane story of Lizzie and her family. I didn’t

want the tour to end! I would go back and do the tour again in a heartbeat.

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