The Lizzie Borden-Earl P. Charlton Connection

06 Aug

The richest man in Fall River was not a Borden, Brayton, Durfee, Remington or Chase.  It was a man who started out with a 5 & 10 cent store – partnered into the Woolworth chain and made a vast fortune that has sustained at least three subsequent generations.

“Earle Perry Charlton, the man for whom the college was named established himself as one of the giants in the annals of chain-retailing industry. He built his company the E.P. Charlton & Co. 5 & 10 Cent Stores from one store in Fall River, Massachusetts opened in 1890 to 53 stores spread across the United States and Canada. By the time of his death in 1930 he had amassed a personal fortune valued at $32 million. He was a visionary, a problem solver, a philanthropist, and above all an honest merchant. He wrote in an article entitled “Mass Selling, an Important Influence,” published in the Boston Transcript in 1929, “That mercantile business would be impossible without…public confidence.”  –The Charlton Story


In 1890- 92 several businesses and organizations were the first to occupy the new Andrew J. Borden Building.  Andrew’s tenants and prospective tenants were in the habit of visiting him at his home at 92 Second Street, which he purchased in 1872.  It’s a very good bet Earle Perry Charlton called upon Andrew there to discuss his occupancy at Andrew’s brand new 3-story structure:  The Andrew J. Borden Building at 41 South Main.  It is very possible even Lizzie met him in her home.

The first floor occupants were:
Charles E. Macomber & Company
and next door at 37 South Main Street was : Knox & Charlton Five and Ten Cent Store – Mr. Seymour H. Knox and Earle P. Charlton, proprietors.


The second floor (39 Main) was occupied by the:
Fall River Christian Science Institute
Mr. Seabury T. Manley (uncle of Miss Alice M. Russell, friend of Lizzie Borden), and Stephen A. Chase (and) Gay’s Gallery of Art,
Mrs. Edwin F. Gay and Mr. Beno Brodkorb, music dealer and teacher.

The next year, the following tenants moved into the building:
Insurance and Real Estate: Mr. Charles C. Cook (financial advisor for the Bordens); and Harry A. Clark & Sons, Mr. Walter M. Barnes, tailor;  Ellen “Nellie” Butler, a dressmaker, and Liza J. Saunders, dress cutting teacher.

Andrew was in the habit of watching his business tenants closely, and when they prospered, he raised their rent.  Charlton only conducted business on Andrew’s property for one year – he was so successful he moved into this building the following year. Charlton StoreCharlton’s charitable contributions began early but the evolution of Fall River’s hospitals are, in large part, due to his influence and generosity.


Lizzie Borden was on the Women’s Board of the Fall River Hospital.

Truesdale Hospital 4Truesdale Hospital was founded in 1905 by Dr. Philemon Truesdale who remained its head until he died in 1947.

Union Hosp-formerly FR HospitalIn 1926-1927, a new hospital was built through the benefaction of  Earle P. Charlton.


It was at the Truesdale Hospital where Lizzie Borden had her gall bladder operation the year before she died.

Truesdale Hospital 3Truesdale Hospital 1946

In 1980, Truesdale Hospital merged with Union Hospital to form the Charlton Memorial Hospital at 363 Highland.  It continues to expand and is now part of the Southcoast Hospitals Group.

Whenever you read that “Andrew Borden was one of the richest men in Fall River” – it just wasn’t so.  But THE richest man was Earle Perry Charlton.


Posted by on August 6, 2009 in Fall River History


6 responses to “The Lizzie Borden-Earl P. Charlton Connection

  1. sandra407

    September 9, 2009 at 9:49 AM

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  2. Lysendra

    November 2, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    As a resident of Fall River, I am very pleased to see an outsider take such in intrest in my hometown. Lizzy Borden deffinatly put Fall River, Ma on the map.

  3. Anonymous

    December 21, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    I did research on Lizzie Borden when I was in college (I grew up in Swansea) and my great-grandfather is EP Charlton so I appreciate your comments!

  4. vgs1895

    August 23, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    Just discovered this site because my daughter moved to FR last week and I was googling stuff about the place. Like the site!

  5. fred

    November 14, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    looking for information on the tunnel that connected the truesdale and the mitchel house, iny info please contact me @

    • phayemuss

      November 14, 2012 at 11:17 PM

      I dont have any info, but ck w/ the fall river historical society. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: