I Slept with Lizzie Borden, AMA

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Lizzie Borden House

Lizzie Borden House by Jim McIntosh on Flickr/Creative Commons

From spooky tales of questionable origin to cautionary memes about razor blade-embedded candy, the Halloween season is fraught with misinformation. Herewith, a primer on what it’s really like to spend a night at one of Massachusetts’s weirdest roadside attractions.

“Who is Lizzie Borden?”

Lizzie Borden is a significant figure in homicidal history, so shame on you for asking. The short version: A spoiled, plain-looking white girl who was accused in 1892 of brutally killing her father and stepmother with a hatchet at their Fall River home. Her trial was an American media spectacle—she was the OJ Simpson of the Victorian era—and, like O.J., she was formally acquitted, except by those with common sense. (That said, alternate theories about the Borden killer’s identity continue to proliferate in online web forums, just in case you’d like to spend Halloween going down a rabbit hole of Monster Energy drinks and loneliness.)

“How did you stay in her house?”

Her Fall River home now operates as the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast. There are eight guest rooms, so you can stay overnight in Lizzie’s old bedroom or even the room in which her stepmother was slaughtered. Because there’s good money in murder, the proprietors have a souvenir shop at the rear of the property, and they’re even developing a Lizzie Borden-based first-person PC game, which sort of seems like “Wolfenstein 3D” wearing a bustle skirt.

Why did you stay in her house?”

It was a getaway gift from my boyfriend, because I am the type of date who would be offered an overnight at a murder scene, see stars, and immediately start choosing our kids’ names. Next question.

“What are the amenities?”

I can’t vouch that the following are offered with consistency, but in our case they consisted of:

“Wait for the thud!” instructed our host, the Borden legacy equivalent of a Renaissance Faire enthusiast, as she gleefully ascended the main staircase while the dozen or so guests braced ourselves to soon be whacked with a hatchet. We dutifully waited for a BANG! from upstairs, followed it, and found our keeper playing dead in the spot where the body of Lizzie’s stepmother was discovered. She popped up, pleased with herself, handed a small ax to one guest and asked her to straddle another, a total stranger, to illustrate how the fatal blows must have been made.

At this point, the Stockholm Syndrome was so real that none of us thought this was strange. (The spell was briefly broken when I, starving, broke us away from the marathon tour for a hurried McDonald’s run. We scarfed quarter-pounders in my car like felons on the lam, and tried to slip back into the group unnoticed; the innkeeper’s disapproving eye suggested it was otherwise.)

“Is the house haunted?”

Yes, supposedly. We did not encounter any ghosts during our overnight — but it was still pretty terrifying. Also magical.

“Is there a framed photograph in the living room of noted Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast fangirl and indie film darling Chloe Sevigny sitting, twee AF, upon the couch where Lizzie’s dad was slaughtered?” 

Yes, yes there is.

Happy Halloween.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2015/10/30/i-slept-with-lizzie-borden/