Tag Archives: classic unsolved crimes

Newspaper Reports When Lizzie and Emma Purchased “Maplecroft”

maplecroftpenink1“Maplecroft” as it looked when Lizzie purchased it – showing shutters

Lizzie Borden was pronounced “Not Guilty” on June 20, 1893.  In less than two weeks, she and Emma were looking for a home “on the Hill” to purchase.  Within 3 weeks they had bought one, and less than a month later, they took possession.

The French Street home was not the first they considered, and when they did purchase #7 French Street, on August 10, 1893, they became the 3rd owner of the property.

July 1st  – less than 2 weeks after her acquittal this report on the Alfred Butterworth estate – neighbors weren’t happy with the prospect.  (Click on images for larger view and use “magnifying glass” feature).


On July 6th came this report:


Five days later – July 11th, the first report of the sale


The next day – this report – The property sold for close to $13,000.



August 10, 1893 – Final transaction – transfer of property from Charles W. and Alto Allen to Lizzie and Emma.



There’s only been 7 or 8 owners of the property in 123 years.  I think that rather remarkable.   Another remarkable thing – the original shutters are being restored and will be put back on, according to my friend, Kristee Bates, the current owner.


Posted by on April 27, 2015 in lizzie borden, Maplecroft


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The Lizzie Borden Chronicles Drops Again in Ratings


UPDATE:  Meant to include this notice of the 3rd consecutive drop in ratings after the 3rd Episode.   Wanna bet the Series ends up 0 for 8?

As predicted. Ratings drop is deeper than I expected. Maybe I won’t have to do a Go Fund Me campaign after all. I am/was thinking of raising money for ads in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter beseeching Lifetime Movie Channel execs not to pick up a second season.

After the 3rd Episode, there’s THIS  I predict Sunday night (April 26, 2015) will be another drop.

I wonder how Christina Ricci is feeling about it now?   Maybe like this:

aa“I’m so tired of dragging this phuckin’ thing around.”

(Chrstina Ricci after Take 22)

Let’s hope for a continued downward spiral.

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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Lizzie Borden Chronicles vs. Mad Men Final Episodes

Both MAD MEN-THE FINAL EPISODES and THE LIZZIE BORDEN CHRONICLES debut Sunday night, April 5th at 10: pm (Eastern and Pacific).   Who will win the Ratings Race? Which will you be watching Sunday night and which will you DVR?

NBC and the Lifetime Movie Channel hope you’ll be watching their premieres.  Frankly, neither are my taste.  I’m still mourning the end of Downton Abbey and still taking my meds on finding out next season will be its last.  But I digress.  For what I think, see below these promo banners. LBC MM FE I think Elizabeth Moss would have made a better (acting-wise) and more authentic Lizzie Borden.  And I think Christina Hendricks would have been a much sexier Lizzie than Christina Ricci’s sexo-comedic portrayal of her. MM Peggy MM

Clearly, Christina Ricci’s career got an adrenalin surge when Lifetime selected this compelling case, pimping out the enigmatic Lizzie Borden and transforming her into a gross caricature – a post pubescent sociopath.

I don’t care that The Lizzie Borden Chronicles is not based on historical fact   I don’t care that it proposes to only portray what “might have happened” after her Trial.  The damage is done.  And I’ll be writing about all that later.


Posted by on April 3, 2015 in lifetime movie channel


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Swansea Cousin Confirms Lizzie Borden Was “Odd”

In my FIVE DECADES of researching the Borden case, Fall River, the Gardners of Swansea, etc. etc. etc. I have never, ever come across validation of this rumor. Now it is confirmed….Lizzie Borden really was an odd duck.


I suspect Christina Ricci’s portrayal of Lizzie Borden will be prolific in such manners of behavior as illustrated in the above article – not to mention somewhat validated by the video clip of the Lizzie Borden Chronicles shown below.


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Will the Real Lizzie Borden Please Step Away From the Fan

The above exhibit will give you a look at the REAL Lizzie Borden.  If in the area, don’t miss it!


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Marie Belloc Lowndes – The Lodger

Marie Belloc Lowndes, having written over 30 books was a prolific English author.  Seen here on the Aquitania in this Corbis photo dated April 14, 1936

Most Lizzie buffs recognize her from her Lizzie Borden:  A Study in Conjecture which she wrote in 1939, 8 years before her death.  While the book is easy to find for less than $50, what is coveted is the rare dust jacket which bumps up the cost into the hundreds.

The cover shows the Borden house with the Churchill house to the left and in the right foreground, a partial of the Dr. Bowen/Southard Miller double house.   This work of fiction gives Lizzie a love interest with invented characters and is far removed from the actual case.

But her best known work – written in 1913 –  and one which has been made into four theatrical films is:

“Belloc Lowndes is best known as the author of The Lodger, a fictional story about Jack the Ripper that’s told from the viewpoint of… his landlady. It has held up incredibly well for a 90-year-old novel, remaining one of the best suspense stories I’ve ever read. The New York Times also thought it was “excellent” and “a splended work of art” and “one of the best suspense novels ever written.” The Chicago Tribune called it a masterpiece, the New York Daily News said it’s “a classic of the genre.” Belloc Lowndes also counted among her admirers a certain crime historian I’m very fond of, Edmund L. Pearson. So I’m not alone in my judgment.”

-Laura James – from her  CLEWS blog

In 1926 Alfred Hitchcock directed The Lodger starring Ivor Novello as the Lodger.   I recommend the DVD: The Lodger, A Story of the London Fog.

Most frequently shown on TV is the 1944 version starring Meryl Oberon and Laird Cregar.  Mr. Cregar gave a chlling performance.

Man in the Attic (1953) followed starring Jack Palance.  This link is to the film in its entirety.  Jack Palance – great casting.

In 2009 The Lodger was again produced featuring Simon Baker, TV’s “The Mentalist”.  A couple trailers can be viewed HERE.

Lizzie Borden & Jack the Ripper – the two most iconic figures in classic unsolved true crime, both fictionalized by Marie Belloc Lowndes.

(The entire book can be read HERE).


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Like it or Not – Fall River is Synonymous with Lizzie Borden

Fall River remains one of those cities best viewed from a distance.  Up close her blemishes neither beckon nor embrace.  Lizzie Borden, on the other hand, forever beckons, blemishes and all.

From a historical perspective, Fall River is as associated with Lizzie Borden as Dallas is to the JFK assassination. Both horrific and shocking events, both forever embedded in American history.

The Lizzie Borden story is not just about a 32 year old spinster who wielded a hatchet, (let me repeat that – HATCHET) on a highly humid August 4th day, but is a case about class structure in a stratified society with the poor deferring to the power and control of the founding families.  It is the incredulity of the circumstances of such a heinous crime in broad daylight with suspicion of a Borden – and the younger daughter at that – which gives this Victorian patricide its compelling and enduring mystique.  It is a case that was so out of the bounds of reference for local law enforcement and the public’s imagination in general that weaves into  the tapestry of Fall River’s history.

To Fall River residents who are little charmed or largely exasperated by the “Lizzie Borden” association to their city, like it or not this case has legs – and has for 117 years.  Like it or not dozens of books on the Borden case, hundreds of dedicated chapters in compendium books, numerous plays, an opera, a ballet, musicals, documentaries, a made for TV film, thousands of websites, blogs and YouTube uploads have continued to feed the hungered curious.

Morphed into the popular culture this mystifying maiden has had her face and form replicated into Goth dolls, bobble heads, woodcuts, miniature die caste game pieces, original “Lizzie art” offered on eBay, CafePress, Itsy, and more.  These all serve as the cemented footprint that this case is destined for durability and forever associated with Fall River.

It is a case that gets discovered by every succeeding generation of those who have an interest in true crime, specifically unsolved true crime.  In all the world and in all the world’s issues, conflicts and topics be they political, social, environmental – cumulative scholarly interest in the Borden case is but a small niche.  A mere pimple upon the landscape of life’s Bigger Issues.  But for pockets of society drawn to  classic unsolved murders and readers of true crime this case endures, spawning new devotees with each successive decade.  Indeed, of all classic unsolved true crimes two names emerge unchallenged with worldwide recognition:  Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper.   So like it or not Fall Riverites – Lizzie Borden is there to stay.

People flock to Fall River just because of Lizzie Borden.  And more often than Fall River’s office of tourism would like, only because of Lizzie. Whether a weekend or just a day long visit they want to see four things and four things only:

  • The house at 92 Second Street where the murders happened (and in more recent years, some signs of the ghostly and paranormal).
  • “Maplecroft” – the house on French street where she lived after the Trial and until her death.
  • The Borden gravesite at Oak Grove Cemetery.

    The Fall River Historical Society which has possession of evidence offered at Trial.

      Image by photoshy

      They travel cross-country and beyond just to stay at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum.  Few bother ascertaining what else Fall River has to offer and once arrived, they might have except for their disappointment in the look and feel of Fall River today.  More than a century passed its prime, the tawdry downtown and surrounding neighborhoods reflect a city ridden with crime and long without sustainable economic development.

      Yet, Lizzie’s home town still has more to offer than just “Lizzie”.  Visitors can drive through “the Highlands” and see one of the greatest concentrations of Victorian homes in the country, Battleship Cove, the Martime Museum, the Fall River Historical Society (if you’re lucky enough to be there when they’re open),  music and art at The Narrows, the mills and factories – though most standing silent and unoccupied – as testaments to Fall River’s once grand and thriving past. Then there’s the incredible food, beautiful vistas, and some wonderful people – 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation blue collar working class people.  But alas, too often for too long these have been bypassed by those drawn to the Borden sites.

      Long after more iconic structures have been torn down, long after we have crystals embedded in our foreheads, long after communication requires neither digits nor the digital, humankind’s interest in Lizzie Borden will endure.

      Whether on her back looking upwards or above looking down, surely she chuckles; the knowledge of “who dunnit” hers and hers alone.


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