The explosion of interest in the paranormal in today’s society has resulted in several “ghost hunting” investigative t.v. shows, cottage industry “entertainment mediums” who proliferate the ‘net with their blogs and websites, bona fide mediums and psychics whose best-sellers help launch their own talk shows, increase manufacture and sales of evp recording devices, increase demand for Ghost Hunter University applicants, and hundreds of bookings at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. Why is this? Why now at this time, post 9-11 in this new millenium? What is it in our culture, our society, that draws people from all professions, and all religious and educational backgrounds? I don’t know, but I do know that it’s a phenomena which continues to grow as well as those who would capitalize from it. It’s the American way.
The Lizzie Borden house from the north looking south from the space the Churchill house used to occupy. The “side door” is on the lower left.
People like to visit and occupy the same space in a different time where notable historical or notorious solved or unsolved crimes took place. Thus, the Borden house is a magnet to those seeking that experience. They come in droves for the day time tours to hear the tale and see the spots and take pictures and relish in the “I was there” experience.
Lizzie Borden, as I’ve often said, is a one dimensional persona, encapsulated in a inaccurate quatrain forever doomed to be perpetually marketed as wielding a bloody axe upon the noggins of her stepmother and father one sticky-sweaty day in early August 1892. But she is so much more than that and the story of Lizzie Andrew Borden and Fall River are so much more than that. 92 Second Street draws scholars to the case – flocking as if to Mecca to soak up the richness of the environment, impervious to the tales of the premises being haunted. They register disdain about ghostly apparitions and things that go bump in the night. “Bah! Humbug!” they say and they say it with every confidence that they shall enjoy another quiet, undisturbed slumber through the night. And they do. Repeatedly. Every visit. No paranormal activity whatsoever. For years.
So then, if we look for it will it be there? Or is it there to be felt, seen and heard by some but not by others? Well, I can tell you my experiences as one who was first inside 92 Second Street in 1977 and spoke with then owner, John McGinn, nothing was said about any paranormal activity. And I’ve stayed overnight at the B&B since 1998, often having the entire house all to myself – no one – no one but me inside. In all those years, in all those stays, I’ve only had 3 experiences, and one doesn’t really count. I’ll tell you briefly about them:
#1. November 3, 1999 – Martha McGinn gave me a key to come and go as I was the only guest and would be the only one inside the house that night. I went down to the cellar with a few clothes to wash and suddenly I saw it! Holy Pshaw!! ANDREW BORDEN LAID OUT IN HIS COFFIN AT THE FOOT OF THE STAIRS!!! My heart leaped. For a nano second. It was only Martha’s prop from her Halloween party a few nights previous. But damn, did that look real.
#2. August 4, 2006. The B&B was filled with paranormal investigators, psychics, mediums, ghost-writing authors, etc., all talking about this new entity in the house. I listened with the ear and mind of a skeptic. “If you want it, it will come.” Exhausted from the day and night’s activities, I went to lay on a cot down in the cellar, away from it all. Everyone was upstairs. I was alone. I lay on my side and in a few moments felt 3 fingers slide down my back. Distinctively 3 fingers. Medium Liz Nowicki – Boston Herald photo
Not a spider, not cobwebs, but fingers. I leaped up and yelled: “Who’s there?”. For the first time EVER, I was scared and I bolted upstairs and outside to smoke a cigarette with a shaking hand. Relating what I had just experienced, I was told that it was a new, hostile entity that came thru a portal from all the seances conducted in the house. Oh fine, thought I….after all these years now I gotta think twice about this house being active. Me. Senior Skeptic #1. (For more about this experience click this link to the podcast. It was like I was paranormically divirginized. I could never view or feel the same about 92 Second Street again. I was deflowered. And I didn’t like it.
#3. September 29, 2007. Ghost Hunter’s University booked the whole house. In addition, a number of psychics and mediums were in attendance. Donald Woods and I sat in on a seance conducted by local medium “Liz”. Liz is a very sweet and attractive lady who can “read” people and sense “things”. She regularly conducts seances for guests who want them at the B&B. Never having sat in on any seance and quite frankly believed them to be faked, I thought I would check this out. Read about her HERE.
About 16-20 people in the room – 6 seated at a round table. Liz’s back was to the sealed up fireplace. My back was towards the parlor door. I had a clear unobstructed view of all at the table. Without detailing all the questions asked by Liz and the other guests, I’ll just state what happened. The table moved. The table not only moved, it lifted from the carpet, it turned several times 360 degrees, it tilted about 80 degrees, it rocked and rolled. Trickery? Knee-cap momentum? Finger grips? Wires? Well, I’ll tell you this. I bent down several times and looked underneath the table. I walked right up *to* the table and crouched down and observed everyone’s legs, feet, knees, arms and hands. I did this several times. I moved in closer and eye-balled all hands and fingers watching for pressure, grips, slides, whatever. That table moved even when everybody’s hands were completely off the table and their feet were flat on the floor and no body parts came in contact with the table! Conclusion: THE LIZZIE BORDEN HOUSE IS ACTIVE. Does that mean it’s haunted? Well, for some, things do go Boo! and Bump in the night, but no one’s ever been hurt or morphed into some axe-wielding creature creating bloody bedlam.
Lee-ann Wilber, co-owner, swears there are children in the Knowlton Room on the third floor. She kindly leaves them toys in the trunk. But I highly doubt they are the legendary drowned children of Andrew’s uncle, Ladowick Borden and his deranged wife because those kids were one and two years old and would not have the dexterity to play with the marbles so often heard. But there’s something. There’s definitely something. And prior to two months ago I would have still been saying “Bah! Humbug!”
So as we approach another Halloween – an almost sacred night for those entrenched in the occult, and for those psychics, mediums, and ghost-chasers whose antennae are at peak performance every October 31st, let all who read here that I, Faye Musselman, being of sound and skeptic mind, do hereby testify that 92 Second Street is “active” with unknown spirits and paranormal activity.
But is it haunted per se? That doorway to my mind is yet to be opened.