Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks...
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one...
Most people wouldn’t think that America’s most infamous murder sites, is a getaway for a romantic weekend.
Then again, I’m not most people. Let me go on record as saying I had suggested it to my-then boyfriend for his birthday. I seriously thought I could handle it. I wasn’t entirely right and I wasn’t entirely wrong. We arrived at Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast at around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. The place had just closed for tours, but we could leave our stuff in our room and explore the house.
We stayed in the exact room where Lizzie’s stepmother had been found with nineteen hits to the back of her head. I made certain my ex slept on the side where the body was found...
The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast is very much a place caught in time. The furniture, although not the original, is authentic. They have done their very best to recreate the home as much as possible. None of the rooms have TVs (except the parlor which only has Lizzie Borden movies and a DVD player), and there are only two bathrooms to share.
Perchance you should forget where you are, every room has some kind Lizzie Borden memorabilia. One room even had one of the costumes from the Elizabeth Montgomery (from Bewitched!) biopic. As a huge fan of the Silent Hill franchise, I did not take the mannequin lightly.
The entire house had various pictures of the Borden family, the murders, and various artifacts of Victorian mourning openly displayed.
The dining room, which was also where the actual autopsy of the bodies was performed- had models of the Bordens’ crushed skulls.
Our room, henceforth known as ‘The Murder Room’, had crime scene photos delicately framed to give us a view of where the body was.
Any other guests for the night started to arrive around 7PM- we had a tour scheduled for just a bit later. The night tour was incredibly worth it and lasted over two hours. Our tour guide took us through every inch of the house, giving incredible details on the variety of theories surrounding the case. She then described the haunted history of the house, including showing us several supposed spirit photographs of past guests. The ex had been seriously into the paranormal as a teen. He’d even studied with the Warner family- so he basically giggled during this part. I’m also a researcher of spirit photography and Spiritualism. Neither him nor I, were totally convinced by the photographs she showed.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast encourages you to film and record any noises and ghostly sightings you might find. Needless to say, I took as many photographs as I could, but the ghosts were shy. The best I got was something that resembled a face down in the basement. Whether the photographs are real, there is certainly something strange about that house.
The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, seems to go out of its way to fill each room with a horror cliché- even if it has nothing to do with the space.
The incredibly cold rooms, the creaking floors, the self-moving rocking chair, the dark creepy basement, the stories of ghosts from past visitors and staff- all the details in the house just breeds apprehension from anyone who had studied ‘Horror 101’. My favorite was the abandoned children’s toys. Supposedly, there had been a child murdered across the road and the ghost had taken residency in the house. Visitors claimed to have heard children running and laughing in the house and left toys to appease their restless ghosts.
To add to the horror clichés, our bedroom had this creepy-ass cat doorstopper- with bright yellow eyes. When the streetlights shone through the window, the eyes appeared to glow. My ex laughed as I covered it with a towel.
And you will have plenty of time to explore- because once the tour is over. They lock you
in for the night.
The staff generally doesn’t stay there with you. Our tour guide had mentioned that she had seen too much in her time there and refused to spend the night. The owner of the house had also had too many paranormal close calls and declined to spend the night in the house. They leave you and the rest of the guest in the house with only two sets of keys out, in case of emergencies. Should you dare to venture down into the kitchen by yourself once the hostess leaves- you are left with milk and cookies for your troubles, as well as some unpleasant dreams. The ex and I hadn’t eaten since our decadent seafood lunch, so we took the key and ventured off to a nearby, and really the only open, restaurant we could find open at ten o’clock-The Taphouse Grille.
Considering the tour left me slightly freaked out-I avoided beer but they had a massive tap list should you be so brave. The staff there was friendly, but this place was way too loud, with a DJ blasting ‘modern’ hits. It’s highly recommended you eat elsewhere, before you are locked in for the night. We ventured back to the bed and breakfast and traded the key to the next group of adventure seekers and attempted to settle in for the night.
Regarding booze- Mr. Borden was notorious anti-alcohol; so the hostess recommended the guests do any imbibing outside the house. You wouldn’t want to anger a tea-totaling ghost now, would you?
Upon our return, the ex and I explored the house. What had looked like such a lovely Victorian home cascading afternoon sunlight- now looked ominous and creepy. Even though the place was completely booked for the night the only sound to be heard was the refrigerator and the loud shutter on my camera.
I found the ex in the second murder room- where Lizzie’s father had been located the day of the murders. He was seated on the floor facing the wall with an antique Ouija board.
“Don’t mess with that!” I yelled.
“You and I both know that this isn’t going to do anything.”
“Probably not, but if there are things here are don’t piss them off!” I gritted through my teeth.
“You can’t be serious!?”
At which point I raised my hands up in frustration and told the spirits it was his fault and not mine. We then attempted sleep. I use the word ‘attempted'. I don’t know how long I managed to sleep, but the house got the best of me. I was plagued by horrible nightmares, and felt something grab my foot and woke up in a terrible fright, nearly strangling said ex. He then reluctantly agreed, to sleep with the light for the rest of the night.
The next morning, we were greeted with the smell of breakfast cooking from the kitchen and a bloody head pic.
We joined the rest of the guests over a breakfast of strong coffee, potatoes and Johnnycakes. Everyone spoke of a strange feeling that overwhelmed the house well into the night- but no one managed to catch any paranormal activity. For my ex and I, aside from my wicked nightmares, the scariest thing we saw when we woke up- was the power plant out the window-NOT the prettiest.
How the hell did we miss that?
We packed our belongings after a spell at the gift shoppe went on our way to our next destination. My mom still wears her “ All I Need To Know About Anger Management, I Learned From Lizzie Borden” T-shirt.
So, was it haunted?
Well, it’s amazing what can happen when the mind plays tricks on you. I know that I’ve never had more vivid nightmares in my life though. It certainly felt like there was something in that house- even if it was just my own insecurities and vivid imagination- the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast certainly set the stage. Unlike my skeptic ex, I was the Fox Mulder personality- I wanted to believe. The tone of the tour, the mystery behind the house and the murders- all got to me. We forget sometimes that we haven’t been the only people here- and just because you don’t know about it doesn’t mean that something didn’t happen where you are right now. Every location is filled with history- some of it horrible- it just didn’t involve you.
I can’t say for a certainty if the house was haunted. Weeks later, as the relationship with my ex horribly ended -the cup I had bought from the gift shop fell of an otherwise stable table- shattering across the floor. The flower he gave me from a nearby graveyard however, stayed intact. At the very least I can say, the only ghosts that came home with me-were my own.
WHERE TO EAT:
If are staying at the Lizzie Borden house be sure to eat before the tour as the options are limited. The TapHouse Grille (University of Massachusetts, 159 S Main St, Fall River, MA 02721) has a basic bar menu, friendly service and a large number of taps. The bonus for this place is because they are open late. There is also a Dunkin Donuts a down the block from the house that is open in the morning, in case the Johnny Cakes weren’t enough.
WHEN TO TRAVEL:
The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast offers tours everyday except Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you are staying at the house, then you get a complimentary (and highly recommended) tour. It’s also recommended that you get your reservations to stay the night in advance-obviously Halloween season and August 4 (the day of the infamous murder) fills up fast.
If you go for just the tour, it’s $18.00 for adults and they are offered every hour from 11AM until 3 PM
The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast is a close drive to the wonderful town of Salem, as well as Milford Massachusetts- both of which have amazingly creepy cemeteries and fantastic shops all of which are well worth the ride! Salem has a witch museum, a witch trial memorial, night tours and The Burying Point: Here is the info to Salem.