The photos say it all but I’ll elaborate in a follow-up post later today or tomorrow.
The photos say it all but I’ll elaborate in a follow-up post later today or tomorrow.
Photo by Deborah Allard, Fall River Herald News
It’s been over a month since the Facebook page “Lizzie Borden’s Maplecroft” has revealed an update of the renovation progress or information on planned opening date for tours.
It is still most likely the residence where Lizzie lived the entire second half of her life will NOT be operated as a Bed & Breakfast as first indicated by Kristee Bates.
While curators Rebello and Pavao have been on the hunt for furniture, fixtures and artifacts associated with the home during the period Lizzie lived there (1893-1927), they have yet to discover and acquire items with the “Wow” factor, such as the bed in which Lizzie died.
Unlike 92 Second Street, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum, where the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden took place on August 4, 1892, there is not one fixed date of historical significance at 306 French Street. Lizzie lived there for 35 years but only 12 with her sister, Emma (1893-1905). So will the furnishings depict that period or post Emma? Will it depict furnishings and artifacts of the elderly Lizzie? Styles in home decor differed greatly from the mid and late 1890’s as cultural shifts in society changed from the Edwardian era to World War I to the Jazz Age. Definitely a curating – let alone a seek and obtain – challenge.
One of the basic tenants of marketing an event is to build excitement. If the event is to draw attention and excitement about a future tourist attraction, titillating “teasers” are essential. No doubt whenever the opening, there will be significant local interest. Local media reporting will feed into the regional news, but with ongoing good marketing appeal would extend to national and international interest. And our treasured Lizzie Borden and her story is not landlocked within our own shores.
Early on in Ms. Bates renovation endeavors she sent me nearly a dozen short videos of her sweat equity. From the “steeple” room where she plans (planned?) to have “tarot card readings”, to the 3rd floor (attic, i.e., servant’s quarters), to kitchen, to basement, to enclosed porch “where I’ll serve tea and crumpets” these videos show exactly what was being done and explained by Kristee herself. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THESE VIDEOS, EMAIL ME AND I’LL SEND THEM TO YOU.
There are those who do not think “Maplecroft” will open to the public at all. Perhaps it will be a seasonal thing and for tours only. Whatever the use it should be marketed effectively. The Lizzie Borden B&B Museum is self-marketing – Maplecroft is not.
Time to revisit Maplecrof – Lizzie Borden’s home for the entire second half of her life. She had great pride in this house which she nurtured, maintained, and coveted as if it were the child she never had.
Former owner, Bob Dube and current owner Kristee Bates – Fall River Herald News photo
House was purchased on November 21, 2014 by Twilight Enterprises (actually Howard and Kristee).
While its been written and often stated that Lizzie and her sister moved into a mansion on The Hill, the Charles M. Allen house was not a mansion. Newport had mansions – Fall River had stately Victorian homes. “Maplecroft” was purchased in November 2014.
The Fall River Herald News ran this article on early discoveries Kristee made of her renovation endeavors.
Last year, Kristee sent me fragments of the original wall paper and drapes from Lizzie’s front bedroom which I framed and show here:
Lizzie seems to have favored the darker colors, unlike her dining room paper shown below.
There are attempts to identify and acquire books Lizzie owned which, when signed by her, can cost several thousand dollars. Copies on display in Maplecroft would most certainly lack the “oooohh” and “aaahhh” factor as only things that really belonged to her will deliver satisfaction to visitors. For example, having a tour guide correctly state: “And this is the bed that Lizzie Borden died in.”
The house – as a tourist attraction – will have to be furnished with exquisite and tasteful furniture, fixtures, and other appointments that Lizzie herself would have purchased. Such acquisitions will be costly and difficult to find or otherwise acquire, however, will grant great credit to the new owners if achieved. I wish them the best of success in these endeavors and look forward to their progress.
NOTE: I HAD THE ORIGINAL LETTER IMAGED BELOW IN MY ‘LIZZIE BORDEN ” COLLECTION FOR YEARS. I TOOK IT ON ONE OF MY TRIPS TO FALL RIVER AND HAD THE FALL RIVER HISTORICAL SOCIETY PHOTOCOPY EACH PAGE FOR THEIR COLLECTION. EXCERPTS OF THIS LETTER NOW APPEAR IN THE FALL RIVER HISTORICAL SOCIETY’S BOOK, PARALLEL LIVES – A SOCIAL HISTORY OF LIZZIE A. BORDEN AND HER FALL RIVER.
LATER, I SOLD THE ORIGINAL LETTER ON EBAY (AND I’M STILL SMILING).
(THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THIS BLOG PAGE OVER A DECADE AGO BUT WARRANTS A NEW ISSUE).
When Lizzie Borden was in her teens and early 20′s she did attend parties with her contemporaries. She may have attended a party not unlike the one described in the handwritten letter below by Florence Borden, daughter of Spencer Borden. Flushed with the excitement of the evening’s events, the 15 year old Florence wrote “November 30, 1896″ at the top of the letter, but the postmark shows when it was mailed the next day, “December 1, 1895″.
Shortly after acquiring this letter for my collection, I took it with me on my next visit to Fall River and left a photocopy for Fall River Historical Society Curator Michael Martins to help me identify those named within the letter. He wrote a 9-page response and I include the first two pages here to save me time (and space) in providing background and identification particulars of a few mentioned: (Click on all images for larger view)
Note: Parker Hooper (born 1877) was the son of William S. and Isabella Hooper who resided on French Street, three houses east from Lizzie.
Bertha Borden (born 1882) was the 15 year old daughter of Jerome Cook Borden & Emma Borden. Jerome was Lizzie’s cousin who supported her during her Trial.
Young Florence is clearly thrilled with the costumes and those attending. Her letter reflects an almost giddiness in her descriptions. She lived in one of the two grandest homes in Fall River: Interlachen
……and she spent that night with Marion Osborne at the other grand house: the Carr-Osborne House
One generation behind Lizzie, these young ladies and gentlemen were the sons and daughters of Fall River’s elite society on “The Hill”. And while they were only around 8-12 years old when the Borden murder case exploded upon the Fall River scene, they would know of Lizzie all their lives. (Most would live long enough to have read Edmund Pearson, Edward Radin and even a fellow B.M.C. Durfee High School graduate, Victoria Lincoln.)
It would be less than two years after this party that Lizzie would be trumpeted again on the front pages: the Tilden-Thurber shoplifting incident. An oh, how these fine, cultured young people must have gossiped about that at other parties.
Note: Florence doesn’t tell us if any of the ladies came dressed as Lizzie Borden with a hatchet sewed onto their skirt. That would have been shockingly inappropriate. Never would have happened. But today? Hell yes.
HERE is a very good article on the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast from the Boston Herald. The lack of current info on Maplecroft is what happens when reporters can’t get in touch with Kristee Bates. I’ve told her she needs to embrace those relationships because their reportings are all free publicity. I’ve had reporters contact me asking for her phone # to do interviews. I pass on the info to Kristee, but she is always too busy. Hope that changes.
The B&B is self-promoting and gets repeat business because of what happened there and the total experience for the guests. Maplecroft’s marketability is more a one time visit without an appeal to see again – because Lizzie only lived there the second half of her life – nothing significant really happened compared to 92 Second Street. Experiences from the two different structures are like going to Disneyland versus going to Walt Disney World.
Anyway, the more references now on the internet about Maplecroft opening up in the near future to the public will pay dividends later.
Findings such as this show us Lizzie Borden as a flesh and blood, three dimensional 19th Century woman with feelings – instead of that iconic caricature of a post-pubescent maniacal sociopath wielding a bloody axe.
As indicated a few days ago – here’s a restoration update. Kudos to Kristee! http://www.heraldnews.com/…/…/NEWS/150726398/0/breaking_ajax
In the original Arrest Warrant for Lizzie Borden, prepared by Marshall Hilliard, she was accused only of the murder of her father. Her Indictment was, of course, for both the murder of her father and stepmother. The interesting thing here is that the “weapon” is named as a HATCHET. A hatchet. Not an axe. Not a sharp instrument. A hatchet.
This is the Arrest Warrant that the Marshall had in his hip pocket when he and Mayor Coughlin went to the Borden house on Saturday …
Stones on Lizzie’s headstone placed today by descendents of Helen Hirsch – of the 6,000 descendents of Schindler’s Jews. Well, I don’t know that, but having seen the film again recently it occurred to me what a quirky and charming thing that would be in the “Wonderful World of Lizzie.” As August 4th comes to a close on the east coast, I bid adieu. Say Goodnight, Gracie. (image swiped from Deborah Allard Dion FB page.
All satellites are beginning to orbit around “The Wonderful World of Lizzie.” All is in place for the annual re-enactment at the Lizzie Borden B&B, followed by the obligatory Maplecroft “porch pose” (site inspection done by director of Pear Essential Players today), followed by the laying of flowers at the Borden plot at Oak Grove Cemetery.
Other satellites already beaming GPS coordinates for the dozens of cruise-by vehicles on French Street while the Fall River Herald News photographer will capture exteriors of crowds and interiors of “actors” simulating the morning chaos of August 4, 1892 to appear on the front page of its August 5th edition.
The Fall River Historical Society is battening down the hatchets for one of their biggest days of the year and displaying letters Lizzie wrote while incarcerated as well as prominent selections from their vast repository of Lizzie Borden artifacts and Trial evidence.
Satellite debris fallout in this Wonder World of Lizzie includes the regurgitation of Lizzie documentaries aired on TV, followed by all the blog posts, media mentions and newspaper write-ups commemorating this august day. (See what I just did there?)
Kristee Bates, Maplecroft owner, tells me she will NOT be allowing people inside no matter how loudly they knock, but it might be a tad difficult to turn away Utah license plates with a car full of wide eyed, salivating, and pathetically pleading individuals.
Our dear Lizzie, throughout all this annual hoopla, will remain in repose buried at her father’s feet. Andrew’s bony skeleton arms cross his chest where a singular high school ring (a gift from Lizzie) dangles from his finger. We might consider it a testament to his love for her if it weren’t for that sudden jerk of his foot that kicks Lizzie in the head at the stroke of 11:00 am each and every 4th of August.