Update on the “Brownell” House – Where Emma Borden Stayed

09 Jan

Everybody knows Lizzie Borden’s sister, Emma, was visiting the Brownell’s in Fairhaven on August 4, 1892. The image below is of that house on Green Street, once numbered #19. It’s been “condemned” as a health and safety hazard by the town and while a singular posted No Trespassing sign hangs in the back, it has not deterred looky loo’s and other tourists from trespassing.

Since its been over 3 months since I was on and inside the property (see December 21, 2007 recycled blog entry with slide show), I wanted to follow up.

I sent an email to Bill Roth, Planning Director, who referred me to Pat Fowle, Fairhaven Health Agent, and Wayne Fostin, Building Commissioner. Pat, while very gracious was unable to give any current information and suggested I speak with Wayne who was directly involved.

Wayne Fostin is a most accommodating fellow and quite sympathetic to this eyesore on Green Street. He related how their hands are really tied to do anything whilst the “owner of the property is still alive” and the property remains in Probate Court. He used the words “historic property” and I asked if that was because Emma Borden stayed there. He said it was. However, I rather doubt that…as I would think whatever governing or oversight body having authority to declare it an historic structure would also have authority to not have allowed it to deterriorate into the condition it is now. Wayne said about all the Town of Fairhaven can do is leave it as is until such time it could be torn down or refurbished. We both agreed this could be a long, long time, pending the Probating process.

I remarked to Wayne, who is also the town’s Conservation Agent, about the neighbors being subjected to rats, vermin, bacteria in the air, fire hazards, etc. and he concurred it is a problem but there was nothing more the town of Fairhaven could do except put up a “No Trespassing” sign. He said if they caught trespassers in the act they would be prosecuted. It might be feasible to prosecute local trespassers but misdemeanor trespassing acts by out of state tourists are hardly offenses extraditable, and if they were, hardly cost effective law enforcement for the town of Fairhaven. Of greater concern than trespassers, and Wayne agreed, are other illegal activities that could occur in such a decrepid structure that beckons the drug induced or worse yet – a fire that would threaten and/or destroy neighboring structures and cause bodily injury, even death. Apparently, nothing will or can be done to or with the “Brownell” house until the last and final account in Probate Court regarding this property.

Let’s hope no tragedy happens that would give cause for the Town of Fairhaven to re-write its ordinance and related empowerment regarding condemned structures.

Here’s some charming pictures of Fairhaven. Click here.


Having nothing to do with the above, I wanted to pass along part of an email sent to me the other day – a friend’s definition of “Cliques”. Rather point on, I thought. šŸ™‚

“It is the nature of “cliques”….unique dynamics within cliques…the individual morphs into the whole, losing touch with the one-ness of self, shedding individual thought for group consensus, and huddles to protect the oneness of the clique, thus regurgitating the cycle.”

Something to ponder. šŸ™‚

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Posted by on January 9, 2008 in Fairhaven


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