On a quiet street in Fall River, Massachusetts sits a modest Queen Anne Victorian home that harbors a dark, gruesome history within its aging walls – a history that rocked the state of Massachusetts to its very core in the year 1892. Much like the people of Fall River in those times, there isn’t a single person in the present day and age that hasn’t become familiar with the name Lizzie Borden or the macabre story surrounding her family. Below is an in-depth look at the Lizzie Borden house, the Borden family, and the murders that shocked the country.
Where Did Lizzie Borden Live?
As previously state, the Lizzie Borden house is located in the city of Fall River in Bristol County, Massachusetts. The city gained a reputation as being the leading textile manufacturing center in the U.S. during the 19th century. In the present day, however, it is more notably recognized as the location of the Lizzie Borden murder house.
Lizzie Borden House Address
The Lizzie Borden house, site of the infamous murders, is located at 230 2nd St #2006, Fall River, MA 02721.
Lizzie Borden House Floor Plan
Stepping through the entryway, there’s the parlor to the left of the front door, the stairs that lead to the second level on the right, and a path leading into the sitting room straight ahead (the sitting room is where Andrew was murdered). To the left of the sitting room is the formal dining room and beyond that lies the kitchen at the back of the house to the right of the pantry, sink room, stairs that lead up to the master bedroom, and a side entry to the home.
Going up the spiraled staircase near the front entrance, there is a dress closet on the left, the guest room straight ahead (the location of Abby’s murder), and Lizzie’s bedroom on the right. A door off of Lizzie’s room leads directly into Emma’s room. At the back of the second level (accessed from the stairs near the kitchen) is Andrew and Abby’s bedroom and Abby’s dressing room. Continuing up the stairs to the attic, you’ll find and two additional bedrooms (one of which acted as Bridget Sullivan’s room) and a separate room for storage.
Outside, there is a barn to the left of the main house that acted as horse stables and a carriage storage space.
Finally, directly behind the main house is the entrance to the basement, with the laundry room and wood rooms on the left side of the basement and the fruit cellar and coal bins on the right.
Lizzie Borden House Tour
What was once the site of a grizzly double homicide is now the home to a museum and B&B. The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast / Museum hosts tours hourly from 10am to 3pm, 7 days a week. The tour lasts around 50 minutes and requires no reservation unless you have 10 or more in your party.
The standard day tour costs $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 60 and over as well as students with ID, $15 for children 7-15, and $0 for children 6 and under.
Lizzie Borden Museum
Though none of the original décor or furnishings remain in the museum/ bed and breakfast, the home features several replicas of the furnishings that were in the home at the time of the murders as well as crime scene photos, tons of family portraits, and a plethora of information regarding the murder itself and the trial that followed.
There are even reenactments. I have to say, this seems slightly insensitive and strange, but hey, give the people what they want…I guess.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast
Guests can choose from any of the available bedrooms in the Borden family home and will be treated to a more in-depth 2-hour evening tour of the house (where you’ll be given access locations not featured in the standard day tours) for no extra cost.
For those looking for a night of macabre entertainment, a detailed history of events, the chance to experience some paranormal activity, and a tasty breakfast (as if the tasty breakfast isn’t enough of a selling point), this is an absolute must for you!
Who Is Lizzie Borden? The Lizzie Borden Story
Endless series, films, and documentaries have been made about Lizzie Borden, but most depictions either take liberties with the actual story and embellish details surrounding the case, or they only depict a single theory about what actually happened. History and literature often strip away the human side of these individuals and transform them into a boogie man (or woman) of macabre folklore, but regardless of what actually happened, it’s important to remember that Lizzie Andrew Borden was still just a flesh and blood human.
Born July 19, 1860 to Andrew Jackson Borden and Sarah Anthony Nee Morse, Lizzie’s birth came just two years after the loss of the Borden’s second daughter, Alice Ester, who died of hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) in 1858. Though it is believed Mr. Borden was slightly disappointed at having another girl, Sarah and her eldest daughter, Emma Lenora Borden, were likely overjoyed by Lizzie’s birth.
Growing up, Lizzie was popular and often participated in charity work in her hometown. At 32, the age she was when the crimes occurred, Borden was unmarried and living at home with her family, working as a Sunday school teacher in her spare time. Both herself and her sister, however, were constantly at odds with their father and stepmother, Abby Borden, over financial matters. It’s speculated that this frequent tension shared between the Borden family is what could’ve led to the murders of Andrew and Abby.
Lizzie Borden Murders: A Detailed Breakdown
On an average Thursday morning on August 4, 1892, Andrew Borden and his wife sat down and were served breakfast by their maid, Bridget Sullivan, before Mr. Borden departed his residence to attend to business matters at around 9am. Lizzie slept in at breakfast and did not come down until her uncle, John Morse, left the house. John had paid the family an unexpected visit the previous evening and stayed the night with the Borden family. During this time, Lizzie, Abby, and Bridget Sullivan were the only occupants left in the home since Emma Borden was away visiting friends.
After her husband left, Andrew’s wife Abby went upstairs to tidy up the guest bedroom were Morse had slept the previous night, never knowing this would be where she would meet her end. When Andrew returned to his quiet home, let in by Sullivan, he was greeted by Lizzie, who came down the stairs and told him that Mrs. Borden had left the home after receiving a note that one of her friends had fallen ill.
Mr. Borden went upstairs briefly to his room before returning to the sitting room and settling on the sofa for a short nap. While Andrew slept, Sullivan stated that she went to rest herself after vomiting that morning, believing that she may have contracted the flu that had suddenly swept through the house a few days prior. According to Bridget Sullivan’s testimony, she only stirred from her slumber after hearing Lizzie’s screams that her father was dead. Andrew Borden was found in the same place where he had sat to nap, completely covered in blood and his face so severely mutilated that he was unrecognizable.
Lizzie continued to claim her stepmother had left the house. Additionally, she also said that she believed the couple had been poisoned days previous by way of the milk they drank.
After fetching the local physician and returning to the scene of the crime, Sullivan went upstairs to check for Abby and discovered the second gruesome scene, Abby Borden lying on the floor face down in a pool of blood. Upon further investigation of the bodies, it was discovered that Abby Borden (likely murdered first since the blood surrounding her body was already congealed and dark when discovered) was struck 19 times, and Andrew Borden was struck 11 times with the same weapon, a hatchet. No traces of poison were ever found in either victims’ stomach.
Numerous theories and suspects followed before investigators centered in on Lizzie. Despite a lack of physical evidence to implicate Lizzie in the murders, it seemed there was no one else during the timeframe that the murders were committed who had uninterrupted access to the house.
Additionally, Lizzie was unable to present the letter that Abby Borden had allegedly received the morning of the murders, stating that perhaps her stepmother had burned it accidentally, and it was later discovered that Lizzie had attempted to purchase prussic acid (also known as Cyanide) from a nearby drug store the day before the murders. To make matters worse, Alice Russell, a friend of Lizzie, later stated that she witnessed Lizzie burning one of her dresses in the stove of her home. When asked why she was burning her dress, Lizzie claimed that the garment was stained and could no longer be used. This final piece of information is what led to Borden’s arrest.
Lizzie Borden Crime Scene Photos
The crime scene photos displaying Mr. Borden’s blood-soaked body and mutilated face, along with the photo of Abby Borden lying face down in her own blood, are quite gruesome and difficult to view even by today’s standards. Despite this, ghost-hunters and lovers of the macabre alike still flock to the location of the murders for a tour and the chance to pose for pictures on a replica sofa that looks almost exactly like the one where Andrew Borden met his demise.
These heartbreaking photos prove just how gruesome Andrew and Abby’s murders were:
Lizzie Borden Murder Trial
The trial lasted 14 days and newspapers from all over the country covered the case. Reporters from New York and Boston shuffled into the courtroom every day to see the proceedings.
Lizzie Borden never testified during her trial, but her demeanor in the courtroom, as well as the fainting spell that occurred upon seeing her father’s bludgeoned skull during the trial, led to reasonable doubt amongst onlookers of the case. Borden’s lawyer argued that whoever inflicted such gruesome damage to the victims would have been drenched in blood, something that he claimed would have been too upsetting for Borden to endure.
The defense also produced witnesses that testified to seeing Lizzie leaving the barn during the time of the murders (Lizzie claimed this was where she had been when the murders were committed). On June 19, 1892 Lizzie Borden was acquitted of all charges since there was not enough concrete evidence to prosecute. Lizzie and her sister would go on to inherit their father’s estate and purchase a home in a more upscale part of Fall River.
Speculations as to what actually happened that morning in august continue to be a topic of discussion even in the present day. Numerous theories have arisen over the years. Some of them speculated that Mr. Borden’s illegitimate son, William, was the perpetrator of the crime, while others feel that maybe Emma and Lizzie both conspired to kill their parents (with Lizzie carrying out the crime), or that Lizzie’s uncle had murdered the couple.
There has even been a rumor that Lizzie murdered her parents to protect an alleged romantic relationship with Sullivan, that may have been discovered by Abby the day of the murder, and Sullivan helped her cover it up. Stories of greed, sex, and even incest and abuse have all been presented as possible motives as to why Lizzie Borden allegedly murdered Andrew and Abby Borden, but it seems the question as to why the murders occurred, and who truly had a part in committing them, will go unanswered.
These incredible court sketches give a glimpse into her trial:
Lizzie Borden House Post-Acquittal
Following her acquittal, Lizzie and Emma purchased a home in 1894 with the fortune they inherited from their father. They named the 3,935 square-foot home Maplecroft. Emma eventually moved out but Lizzie remained there under the name “Lizbeth A. Borden” until her death in 1927.
Murder-mystery fanatic Kristee Bates bought the home in 2014 for $500,000 and restored it. In 2017 the home came on the market and sold for $600,000 in February 2018.
How did Lizzie Borden die?
Lizzie Borden quietly lived out the remainder of her days in Fall River Massachusetts, until contracting pneumonia and passing away at the age of 67 in 1927. She was living alone at the time of her death, having moved out of the home she shared with her sister many years before due to Emma’s disapproval of Lizzie’s close, some say romantic, relationship with an actress by the name of Nance O’Neill.
Lizzie Borden Family
Here’s a closer look at the members of the Borden family.
Lizzie Borden Father
Andrew Jackson Borden was born in Fall River, MA, in September of 1822. Andrew struggled financially in his youth but and would eventually find success in the sales and manufacturing of caskets. As time passed, Andrew Borden also prospered in property development and became director of the textile mills Troy Cotton, Globe Yarn Mill Company, and Woolen Manufacturing Company. He was even president of the Union Savings Bank as well as director of Durfee Safe Deposit and Trust Co. Despite his good fortune as a businessman and his ever-growing wealth, the Borden family lived a very modest life, even forgoing modern amenities such as electricity and indoor plumbing to save on money.
At the time of his passing at 69 years of age, Mr. Borden was worth $300,000 (this may not seem like much now, but that is the equivalent of roughly $10 million today).
Lizzie Borden Mother (biological)
Sarah Anthony Morse Borden was born in September of 1823. She was Lizzie’s biological mother and Andrew Jackson’s first wife. Andrew and Sarah wed on Christmas day in 1845 when he was age 23 and she was 22. It would take 5 years, however, before the couple would be able to conceive a child. In 1851, Sarah would give birth to Emma Borden and then a second daughter 6 years after Emma to the date. After Alice Ester passed at the age of 2, Sarah would give birth to her third and final child, daughter Lizzie Borden.
3 weeks after her eldest daughter Emma’s 12th birthday, Sarah Borden died of uterine congestion (also known as pelvic congestion syndrome) at the age of 39.
Lizzie Borden Stepmother
Abigail Durfee Borden (Gray) was born in January of 1828. She was Andrew Borden’s second wife and the stepmother of Lizzie and Emma Borden. She was 37 years of age when she married Andrew. Since she was considered of lower status than Andrew, it surprised many that the two became husband and wife. In fact, some believed that his proposal to Abby was simply because he was looking for someone to raise his daughters and perform general housekeeping, but this could’ve easily just been petty gossip.
The relationship between Abby Borden and her stepchildren was rocky to say the least. Both Lizzie and Emma believed that her marriage to their father was simply for financial gain. Some media depictions of the story paint a picture of a loving stepmother simply trying to bond with her cold, rebellious stepdaughters, while others tell the story of a cruel, callus Abby mistreating her adopted daughters and trying to steal their inheritance. Honestly, there’s not enough evidence to support either version completely; thus, much of their actual day-to-day lives together remains a mystery.
Abby Borden was 64 years of age when she was murdered.
Lizzie Borden Sister
Emma Lenore Borden was born on March of 1851. She was the oldest of the Borden daughters and acted as a surrogate mother to Lizzie after their mother passed when Emma was 12.
Little is known about Emma Borden as a person other than she was fairly religious and frequently involved herself in church activities, including acting as a Sunday school teacher and serving as secretary-treasurer of the Christian Endeavor Society. When her sister was charged with the murder of their parents, Emma became the sole heir of the Borden estate. She would use some of her new-found fortune to assist Lizzie during her trial.
On the exact day her sister Lizzie passed away, Emma fell and broke her hip, dying only 12 days later. She left most of her fortune to charity upon her death.