CHECK OUT THIS ABC NEWS CHANNEL VIDEO AND WHAT FALL RIVER PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY:
I was excited when I heard about the “Lizzie Borden Museum” in Salem, and contacted Leonard Pickel on June 24 to offer assistance and perhaps loan some rare items from my collection for his 3,500 sq. ft. facility (3,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space). However, after two weeks of email exchange, learning of current litigation, and doing a little due diligence, I was less encouraged about the prospects of a first class operation. Learning this owner of Haunted Attractions magazine had planning and design exhibit experience solely on “home haunts” and the ghostly/paranormal genre, my enthusiasm waned considerably. When I asked what he had so far, Mr. Pickel informed me he had “only 50 hatchets so far” and that he was looking for good resolution images of the crime scene to make copies. Three weeks before his initial proposed opening (he wanted to open on her birthday, July 19th) he was still busy with contractors remodeling the venue and still looking for items to exhibit. Mr. Pickel had been asked by the FRHS (of which he is a dues paying member) to do a synopsis of his exhibit for submission to the Board for permission to access and obtain items from their collection. Clearly, the FRHS had the same reservations.
Mr. Pickel claims to have been planning this for years, yet his knowledge of the case is weak. One would think he would have been collecting source materials and reading everything possible to ensure accuracy of exhibits and the proposed CSI-type “journey” into the “true story of Lizzie Borden.” His website, as of this late date, still lacks a “Schedule” of operating hours, a “History”, or “Gift Shop” info. The website is in an ufinished state. Much as, I suspect, the exhibit/facility itself.
Fall River is home to Lizzie Borden. She remained in Fall River all her life. If she had moved to Boston and lived her remaining post-Trial years there, it would seem very appropriate for some type of Lizzie attraction. But in Salem, not so much. On the other hand, whether Mr. Pickel’s enterprise turns out to be a roaring success or a schlocky endeavor, people that visit it and are heading south, will most likely tour the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast (Mecca), visit the Fall River Historical Society, see the family graves at Oak Grove Cemetery and drive by Robert Dube’s “Maplecroft”. Lizzie brings in tourists. The vast majority of visitors to the FRHS come specifically to view their exhibit regarding the Borden case. And those that stay overnight at 92 Second Street get the best bang for the buck of any B&B in the country. PLUS, there are many Lizzie and case related artifacts on display and available for scrutiny at the B&B, including the most complete and comprehensive library of books, pamphlets, letters and journals easily available for review and research. The B&B is truly, the closest thing to a Museum that Fall River’s got – and almost a “living” museum, IMHO.
Yes, Fall River has repeatedly missed golden opportunities for obvious and new ways to capitalize on its most famous citizen. As descendents of the “founding families” literally die out, the resistance to that capitalizing seems to diminish. And that’s a good thing.
As to the new Superior Court across the street, it assumes and will hear those criminal cases which would have previously been at the old New Bedford Superior Court. It was not long ago that an inmate escaped the courthouse in New Bedford, much to the embarrassment of all concerned. The new facility in Fall River will have state of the art security. Talk of an increased criminal element in the Second Street neighborhood is without merit. There will be far more security in and around that building because of the nature of its operations than ever existed before in that space. And let us not forget that the Borden case Coroner’s Inquest and Preliminary Hearing were held in Fall River. Who knows, maybe arrangements will be made between the B&B owners and the court to have re-enactments in the future. I’d certainly pay to see it. 🙂