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Response to Leonard Pickel’s Open Letter re: Lizzie Borden Museum

06 Aug

The litigation I referred to a while back between Fall River’s Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum

and the proposed True Story of Lizzie Borden Museum in Salem

can be read HERE as told by the Fall River Herald News.

I indicated I would comment on Mr. Pickel’s “open letter” below. My brief comments appear in color below:

“Leonard Pickel
http://www.lizziebordenmuseum.com | lizziebordenmuseum@gmail.com | 70.22.220.232

I find it interesting that a museum, which has not opened to the public as of yet, (we are working hard on that people, trust me!), has been dragged through the mud as much as The True Story of Lizzie Borden has.

“Home Haunter?” Do you even know what that means? I have built Attractions for Universal Studios, Madison Square Garden and 6 Flags Parks across the country. I have over 30 years in attraction design, own and edit the industry magazine, and own a convention. I am no hack!

Why don’t you at least wait for reviews of people who have been through the museum, or perhaps even tour the museum yourself, before casting disparaging criticism on the level of experience quality, amount of preparedness or fact checking. I think many people are wishful of a first class operation and anxious to see that is exactly what it turns out to be.

I contacted the FRHS many years ago about getting photos, and they assured me there would be no problem. Then when I was ready to purchase them, everything was different. They have been trying to put together a quorum to even have a meeting for 2 months now. We will be open before they decide if they are willing to assist us in developing the museum content. Sounds like you got the run-around. The FRHS is very proprietary about Lizzie. They are, of course, the repository of and safeguard to much of the physical evidence presented at the Trial. They have regularly scheduled Board of Director’s Meeting. Just how savvy are you, Mr. Pickel? hmmm?

I had all the most of the photos I needed already, what I was looking for was photos with the best resolution available. I just spent $15,000 enlarging photos for the museum, most of which have never been enlarged, or enhanced. Very exciting! You paid too much. Not very prudent for a business man. That’s a lot of $10 admission tickets just to cover costs of those enlargements. And you’re wrong about them never having been enlarged or enhanced. I have 3 feet x 5 feet enlargements in my collection which I’ve used for presentations going back to the mid 1980’s. But perhaps you have better resolution.

While a Lizzie Borden attraction has been in my thought since 1992, I did not have the funding and the right location at the same time until January of this year. I am a busy guy and was not willing to devote the time to fully develop this back burner project until it was real! By then time was short. If you’ve been successful with your Haunted House attractions at premiere venues, why didn’t you have the funding since 1992?

We are behind on opening because of building permit, construction, and contractor delays, and may not be able to open on Monday due to a Fire Alarm panel programming issue. But I am sure we will be open by the end of the week. Then I worry about the web site!! Your website is your branding. It is a primary marketing tool. A rush to open may sacrifice quality, and for visitors, initial impressions are lasting.

Will we be where we want to end up when we open? No. A museum as a constant work in process. We will be critiqued and fact checked by every person walking through the attraction, and we will make changes and corrections to the museum content as we go. Add better photos as they become available, and nuances as we or others thing of them. Critiqued and fact checked.” You got that right.

We are in this for the long run! Taking our time now to get it right is what is important. “get it right’….I would certainly hope so. Advertising the “true story” puts the burden of TRUTH on you, Mr. Pickel.

As for the lawsuit rumor, there are some people who think they own Lizzie! And that no one is allowed to do anything with her without their permission, which they do not give anyone. Maplecroft tried to open a B&B at one time, and those plans were squashed by the self appointed owners of Lizzie. Too bad, I would have loved to spend the night at Maplecroft, wouldn’t you! “Maplecroft” DID open as a B&B, albeit for a short while. Nice research, Leonard.

So now they think they own the idea of a Lizzie Borden Museum, and no one can open one because they own it! They own Lizzie Borden!! I haven’t heard any person, organization or entity say they “own Lizzie Borden”. That’s YOUR phrasing. Clearly, the issue has been the word “museum”.

Sorry… I thought we were free in America, that pursuit of happiness thing, and monopolies were against the law. Monopolies? Monopolies? They ain’t got no stinkin’ monopolies. ;)

The other thing that is against the law is slander! And when you announce a lawsuit in the newspaper, you had better stop wining and moaning and file the thing! All I have gotten so far are angry temper tantrum emails from some attorney, demanding that we take “Museum” off the logo and signage, demanding that we give them our URL, demanding that we take “Lizzie Borden” off of our logo and signage! Because they own Lizzie! Chill, dude your professionalism is showing.

So either file your lawsuit or shut the hell up! Someone didn’t shut up.

The sad part is that The True Story of Lizzie Borden is the best thing that ever happen to the B&B and the FRHS. There are 600,000 tourists that come to Salem each year. And most of them have no idea where Fall River is, or that Lizzie Borden lived there. Only an hour and a half south, we will drive more people to Fall River than the Fall River Tourism Board (if there even is such a thing), could ever dream of doing! Read my type Leonard, your exhibit is NOT the best thing that ever happened to the B&B and the FRHS. It hasn’t happened yet. The B&B has done very well for well over a decade. A first class exhibit in Salem would probably drive more tourists into Fall River, but not that much. People interested in the Borden case come to Fall River anyway. Why? Because its where the House is. Because it’s where the evidence artifacts are. Ask yourself why Willie Sutton kept robbing banks. ;)

Our plan was to have an internet terminal, so people could find out the hours of the FRHS or rent a room at the B&B while in the museum. An internet terminal. How early 90’s. People have cell phones with internet access, text messaging. Again, good research, Leondard. Good out-of-the-box thinking.

But why would we do that if they are going to be ugly about the whole thing. If they don’t want the exposure, we can always tell people that, the Murder House is still a print shop, that the FRHS’s Borden exhibit is about the size of our men’s room, and that Fall River is in Rhode Island! Your charming professionalism is exceeded only by your creative wit, as displayed here.

-end

Note: I hope the trademark issue is resolved with no further litigation than the current Restraining Order and Temporary Injunction. I hope the Salem exhibit DOES open and I hope it is a first class operation as is the B&B and the FRHS. But “first class operation” means accurate information. And it has been very apparent to me that ever since Mr. Pickel had this idea (by his own admission back in 1992), he has done little to acquire or read source documents or become knowledgeable about the case and its principles. Something a curator would do. Something an historic B&B owner and manager would do. Something enthusiasts do. Like I said, I’m not holding my breath.

From Lizzie’s A-Twitter Be it Salem or Fall River!, 2008/08/03 at 7:17 AM”

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