Monday, January 19, 2015

Lizzie Borden, Oak Grove Cemetery, Destination Soups and Whaling

Saturday was a gorgeous day here in southern New England. It was chilly to be sure but the sky was blue and the air clear. Since we were also faced with a long weekend (Johnson & Wales was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day) we felt compelled to see more of this part of the United States.

Out of the blue Susie suggested we drive to Fall River to visit the Lizzie Borden House and then to New Bedford, have lunch at Destination Soups and then finish out the afternoon at the New England Whaling Museum. And so we did.

It was about a 20-minute drive to Fall River and we easily found the Borden House -- now a Bed & Breakfast as well as a tourist attraction. We parked in the rear, and made our way into what used to be the Borden barn but is now the gift shop tourist waiting area. After paying our admission fee we met our guide Danielle -- and since we were the only ones there we had our own private tour.

OK, so here the facts in a nutshell:

Abby and Andrew Borden were hacked to death at their home, 92 Second Street (today no. 230) on the morning of Thursday, August 4, 1892; Abby, Andrew’s second wife, was killed sometime between 9am and 10:30am, and Andrew between 10:30am and 11:10am.

The two other people in the house, daughter Lizzie and live-in maid Bridget Sullivan, heard nothing and saw nothing out of the ordinary. The elder daughter Emma was out of town and a relative who had been staying with the Bordens, Lizzie’s uncle John Morse, had left the house that morning to run several errands (all confirmed by eyewitnesses who placed him elsewhere during the crimes).

No strangers were seen on or around the property and no one witnessed anything out of the ordinary. No murder weapon was ever found and no trace of blood or brains (both skulls were horribly crushed) were found anywhere in the house.

Lizzie was arrested and tried for the crimes. She was found not guilty. According to a statement made by one of the jurors years later, the evidence against her was weak and completely circumstantial (true). Still, the mind boggles, especially after visiting the house, to comprehend that not one but two terribly violent crimes were committed over the period of an hour or longer, without the knowledge of anyone in the same house.

No one else was ever charged with the crime.

barn is in the rear to the left; Mrs. Borden was murdered in the 2nd floor room to the left front; Mr. Borden was found axed to death in the sitting room on the first floor toward the rear o the home

Danielle, our guide, in the front parlor, giving us the introduction to the house and the murders

kitchen, where the original autopsies were done

this is what Mrs. Churchill would have seen when she came up the stairs - she discovered Mrs. Borden's body

the front, 2nd floor guest bedroom where Mrs. Borden's body was found

Lizzie's bedroom
After our tour we hopped back into the car and headed off for "Maplecroft," where Lizzie and Emma lived for many years after the murders and then on to Oak Grove Cemetery to visit the Borden gravesite.

Lizzie died alone on June 1, 1927, at her French Street home in Fall River; her sister Emma died 9 days later in New Hampshire. Both were buried with their sister Alice, who died at age 2, and their parents and stepmother. Later in life Lizzie had changed her name to Lizbeth, and that's how she's listed on the family burial marker.


Andrew Jackson Borden 1822-1892 
Sarah Anthony Borden 1823-1863 
Abby Durfee Borden 1828-1892 

Children of Andrew J. and Sarah A. Borden 
Alice Esther 1856-1858 
Lizbeth Andrews 1860-1927 
Emma Lenora 1851-1927

From Oak Grove Cemetery we found our way back to I-195 east. Our next stop was for lunch at Destination Soups in New Bedford, Mass., where we had a delicious bowl of (wait for it) soup. After lunch we made our way the three blocks or so to the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Located in the heart of "old" New Bedford, the Whaling Museum is packed with fascinating collections, generally well-laid out with lots of information. There were a few places where things seemed a bit jumbled as if they needed someone to rearrange things or put them back in order, but otherwise it was very nicely done.

Our first stop was the Wattles’ Family art galley and this is not to be missed: this room is not so much about whaling or whales but nevertheless contains some powerful artwork by New Bedford artists.

"The Spar" by Clement Nye Swift

"The Seaweed Gatherers" by Clement Nye Swift

Detail of "The roman Forum "by William Wall

"The Dancing Lesson" by Margaret Pierce
The main exhibitions are on the upper level and there’s plenty to see. The “model” ship designed mainly for kids is lots of fun for adults as well and is the centerpiece in it’s own galley, laid out like an old library with upper levels on either side. There’s also a well-done, informative gallery devoted to explaining the impact the Portuguese and Cape Verdeans have had on the whaling industry, particularly out of New Bedford. There's also a room of model ships -- this is a must-see. Incredible detail and impressive craftsmanship.

Lastly, the five whale skeletons are simply overwhelming; and the scrimshaw room is incredible.

There is also an observation deck that opens out onto the harbor — a great place to stop and sit as well, weather permitting. Speaking of sitting, there are plenty of places to sit and relax

The tour takes about 1-2 hours and there is an admission fee. Parking is on the street or in the nearby public garage.

From New Bedford we headed back to I-195 turning west to Providence and after a quick stop for wine and groceries drove home. Not a bad way to spend a sunny Saturday in New England.

No comments: