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Lizzie Borden House Set to Be Sold for Millions

Steve Palace
Credit www.seybothteamhomes.com

The famous/infamous Lizzie Borden house in Massachusetts has gone on the market for $2 million.

At time of writing, the Fall River property is currently “under agreement”, according to a listing from The Seyboth Team Real Estate.

The Borden household at 92 Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts.

The Borden household at 92 Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Should everything be finalized, the new owners will take on a bloody chapter of American history. One that gave rise to a ghoulish nursery rhyme…!

“Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.”

In actual fact Andrew Borden was hit 11 times, according to Live Science. And it wasn’t her birth mother but stepmother Abby who suffered 19 strikes from the hatchet. Lizzie’s actual mother died when she was young.

Lizzie Borden in 1890.

Lizzie Borden in 1890.

The crime took place on August 4th 1892. Abby was reportedly killed first on the upper floor. Andrew’s demise followed some 90 mins later as he napped on the couch.

32 year old Sunday School teacher Lizzie came in from the barn to find the bodies. That was her version of events at least.

Smithsonian Magazine writes police “initially suspected that the murders were the work of an outside individual”. To that end “an innocent Portuguese American man” found himself under arrest. But suspicions soon switched to Lizzie.

Credit www.seybothteamhomes.com

Credit www.seybothteamhomes.com

History.com notes that Lizzie and sister Emma “reportedly despised their stepmother and, as adults, argued with their father over money matters.”

Emma was away and hence out of the frame. According to author Cara Robertson (speaking on ‘48 Hours’ last year), house maid Bridget Sullivan was “outside washing windows when, about 9:30 in the morning, police believe Abby Borden fell to the floor, murdered.”

Lizzie later burned the dress she wore that fateful day. Why? This drastic act was put down to a paint spill.

Credit www.seybothteamhomes.com

Credit www.seybothteamhomes.com

She’d also apparently visited the local drugstore on August 3rd, on a trip to purchase prussic acid – good for treating garments (as Borden claimed she was doing), not so good if ingested. Had her alleged plans been less violent originally?

Add to this the fact the house had no corridors and everything appeared to zero in on Lizzie Borden. Yes, no corridors. Andrew Borden altered the layout of the property and decided the place didn’t need them! This would surely work against a stranger looking to skulk around between rooms.

Borden went before a judge in 1893. Despite compelling arguments, the prosecution’s evidence was deemed circumstantial. Her image as an educator helped in this respect. History.com writes that people believed her “incapable of the gruesome crime”.

Credit www.seybothteamhomes.com

Credit www.seybothteamhomes.com

Crucially the hatchet discovered in the basement wasn’t dusted for prints. This was an age before CSI and Fall River police weren’t interested in such new-fangled practices.

The story made an impact that’s still felt today. Movie thriller Lizzie (2018) cast Chloë Sevigny in the title role. Kristen Stewart played Bridget Sullivan. Before that Christina Ricci portrayed Lizzie in a 2014 TV movie. A limited series was released the following year.

In 1975 Elizabeth Montgomery (‘Bewitched’) took the role in another TV film, ‘The Legend of Lizzie Borden’. Montgomery didn’t realize it at the time, but she and Lizzie were sixth cousins once removed! The facts were written about in Genealogy Magazine over 20 years on from her death.

Credit www.seybothteamhomes.com

Credit www.seybothteamhomes.com

Post-acquittal, Lizzie moved to Maplecroft mansion with Emma. Lizzie passed away in 1927. The Seyboth Team give buyers the option of purchasing Maplecroft as part of the sale.

For the past 15-odd years the house has operated as a bed and breakfast. Full use was made of the property’s period features and lurid legacy. “Tickets are picked up in the Barn (Gift Shop)” its website states, “where Lizzie is eating pears and making lead sinkers.” (Sinkers are used for catching fish.)

It’s hoped interested parties will take over the business now the owners are retiring. The Team refer to it as “a turnkey operation, running lucrative day tours and evening events, and as a popular bed and breakfast destination.”

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There are 6 rooms and, while Covid-19 has affected trade, a virtual tour is available for those not wanting to set foot inside…