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The House Where Lizzie Borden’s Family Was Murdered Is Up for Sale

You can now take a virtual tour of the Massachusetts property, which most recently served as a bed and breakfast

Borden was acquitted of her father and stepmother's murders, but she remained under suspicion for the rest of her life. (dbking via Flickr under CC BY 2.0)
smithsonianmag.com

The house where Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother famously met a grisly end is now on sale for $2 million.

As Suzanne St. John, the property’s listing agent, tells the Boston Globe’s Steve Annear, the Massachusetts home’s current owners are retiring after operating the historic landmark as a bed and breakfast for more than 15 years.

“We are hoping that someone will come in and buy it and keep it as a bed and breakfast and for tours,” St. John says. “It’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in New England. It’s well known all over the world, and on a normal year you have people that come in from all over.”

The mutilated bodies of 69-year-old Andrew and 64-year-old Abby Borden were discovered in the couple’s Fall River home on August 4, 1892. As Cara Robertson, author of The Trial of Lizzie Borden, wrote for Publishers Weekly in 2019, the killer attacked Abby upstairs before hacking her husband, who’d been sleeping on the living room couch, to death. Abby received 19 blows, while Andrew, whose face was said to look like raw meat, sustained 10.

Though authorities initially suspected that the murders were the work of an outside individual, they soon shifted focus to 32-year-old Lizzie. Despite being acquitted of the killings in an 1893 trial, she remained under suspicion for the rest of her life.

According to the website of the bed and breakfast, which also serves as a museum, the house appears just as it did at the time of the murder. The original hardware and doors are intact, and the property’s 19th-century decor has been “painstakingly” replicated. Artifacts linked to the case are also on display. An online virtual tour offers a 3-D view of the six-bedroom home.

Per History.com, Lizzie Borden’s mother died when she was young. She and her sister, Emma, are said to have hated their stepmother and fought with their father, a wealthy investor, over money. At the time of the murder, Lizzie and Emma, 41, were both unmarried and living in the family home, but Emma was away on vacation. Lizzie claimed that she was in the barn at the time of the murders and had only found her father’s body upon returning to the house.

A grand jury indicted Lizzie for the murders, and the case attracted national attention. During the trial, prosecutors offered only circumstantial evidence: She had allegedly tried to buy poison the day before the murders and burned one of her dresses the Sunday afterward. Fall River police failed to test the hatchet used in the murder for fingerprints, which were more commonly used as evidence in Europe at the time and weren’t considered reliable by most U.S. investigators, according to History.com.

Borden’s gender and social class probably go a long way toward explaining why she wasn’t convicted. As Joseph Conforti wrote for Smithsonian magazine in 2019, police initially believed that the crime was committed by a male “foreigner”; they arrested an innocent Portuguese American man just hours after the murders. During her trial, Lizzie, a Sunday school teacher, dressed in tight corsets and held a bouquet of flowers and a fan, leading one newspaper to describe her as “quiet, modest, and well-bred.”

In observers’ view, added Conforti, “She could not possess the physical strength, let alone the moral degeneracy, to wield a weapon with skull-cracking force.”

After the trial, Lizzie and Emma moved to a nearby Victorian mansion, “Maplecroft,” where Lizzie remained until her death in 1927. The property went on the market last year, reported Heather Morrison for MassLive at the time, and can be purchased in conjunction with the bed and breakfast.

About Livia Gershon
Livia Gershon

Livia Gershon is a freelance journalist based in New Hampshire. She has written for JSTOR Daily, the Daily Beast, the Boston Globe, HuffPost, and Vice, among others.

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