Throwback Thursday: “The Ghosts Of The Borden House”

LIZZIE BORDEN TOOK AN AXE…

Borden house

On Thursday, August 4, 1892, 92 Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts became known worldwide as the place where Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby Durfee Gray Borden, were brutally murdered.  Andrew’s youngest daughter, Lizzie Borden, quickly became the sole suspect.  Lizzie was tried and eventually found not guilty. She spent the rest of her life living in a beautifully appointed home in a fashionable neighborhood of the city.

The house went into private ownership and remained that way until it was turned into a Bed and Breakfast by Martha McGinn, in 1996.  Martha had lived in the house as a child and had experienced many strange things there.  She eventually came to believe that the house was haunted, and many of her guests agreed with her.

The Borden home was purchased in 2004 by Donald Woods and his business partner Lee-ann Wilber.  Lee-ann continues to run the property as The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum  It has been featured on many popular paranormal television shows and is now known as one of the most haunted places on earth.

But did you know that several of the resident ghosts aren’t directly related to what happened there in 1892, or to the house itself? Over the years, the property has found itself inhabited by more than just the spirits one might expect to find.

As a former tour guide at the B&B I’ve had the opportunity to examine all sorts of evidence, and to hear the stories of many of our guests.

lizzie borden inn

Let me introduce you to the ghosts of 92 Second St.  We’ll start with the ones most people probably already know about.

First off, there are the murder victims, themselves, Andrew and Abby Borden. The murder weapon was said to be a hatchet, and both Bordens were struck multiple times. When it was over, Mr. Borden’s face was unrecognizable, and the back of Abby’s skull was smashed in..  The brutality of the murders is thought to be one of the major reasons the elder Bordens haunt 92 Second St. It’s believed that the spirits of Andrew and Abby are “stuck” in the house.  There have been many reports of sightings and interactions with the couple, by both guests and staff.

A simple Google search will net you hundreds of reports, video clips, and news articles about encounters with them.

Abby’s spirit is quite sad, but very sweet.  It seems she likes the company of guests.  Mrs. Borden has been known to tuck guests into bed by pulling blankets over their shoulders as they sleep in her bedroom or the room she was killed in. The room where she died was the guest room of the house in 1892 and is now the most oft-requested room for overnight guests.  Many people who stay there report an overwhelming feeling of sadness or dizziness when stepping into the spot where Abby’s body was found.

mother abby borden

Body of Abby Borden

There’s a photo, kept in the gift shop, of an elderly woman peering out of the window of the Borden’s bedroom.  While everything else in the photo is solid, the woman, who is wearing a Victorian sleeping cap, is translucent.  Her head is enveloped by a multi-colored  halo or aura.  Almost everyone who sees the photo believes it to be of Abby Borden’s ghost, and indeed it does resemble known pictures of Abby.  The photo was taken by a young guest who stayed in the house. She was in the parking lot, and the house was known to be empty when she snapped the picture.

Mr. Borden, while not often sighted, interacts with guests and staff in other ways.  There are multiple EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) recordings of Mr. Borden. He is, in death, just as cantankerous as he was known to be in life. He can often be heard swearing on these recordings.  Unlike that of his wife, Andrew’s spirit does not take kindly to the comings and goings of strangers in “his” house.  Andrew was a strict teetotaler, and visitors who drink to excess have had cups knocked out of their hands.

Body of Andrew Borden

Andrew has also been known to touch people.  Guests and staff have reported the feeling of cold fingers running up their spines, or brushing on their shoulders.  Women, in particular, report feeling their hair touched or tugged.  A former tour guide often told a story of reading a book in the sitting room where Andrew was killed.  She was alone in the house and happened to look up from her reading, towards the kitchen door.  She says she saw a thick white mist floating near the ceiling coming through the kitchen door into the sitting room.  As she watched, the mist thickened and slowly floated downward toward the sofa that sits in the same spot as the one where Mr. Borden’s body was found.  As she watched the mist “stretch out” on the sofa, it faded and disappeared.

Part of the décor in the Borden’s bedroom is a small portrait of Andrew that’s kept on a writing desk.  Guests often leave small offerings of change in front of the portrait in hopes that his spirit won’t harass them as they sleep. Some guests have put the coins in their pockets, as a way of challenging Mr. Borden to prove his existence to them.  Many of them report cold spots, a shaking bed, and a rattling doorknob for their troubles.

lizzie bordens bedroom

Lizzie Bordens bedroom

Lizzie Borden. As you can imagine, there are many, many, people who believe they’ve had experiences with Lizzie’s ghost, at 92 Second St.  These encounters tend to be reported most often around August 4th, each year, and July 19th, which is her birthday.  Those who report meeting her spectre on the anniversary seem to find her attitude one of menace.  Conversely, anyone who says they’ve encountered her on her birthday report feelings of kindness, a gentle whiff of perfume, and perhaps even a “thank you”, on an EVP. Many folks who stay at the house on Lizzie’s birthday bring cakes and come on that date specifically to throw her a birthday party in her former home.

Now that we’ve discussed the spirits one would expect to find at the house, let me introduce you to some you might not expect!

One guest room on the third floor, dubbed the chimney room, houses not one, but 3 spirits. The first of these is a man we know as Michael.  Michael, who was known to be a heavy smoker, is a former care-taker at the house.  Tragically, he passed away in a fire that occurred in his own home, after he left his employ at 92 Second St.  There has never been any smoking allowed in the house, so Michael could frequently be found smoking outside.  Yet many guests report waking up to a very strong smell of cigarette smoke, usually near the guest rooms on the second and third floors.  The smell seems to envelope them very quickly, and then just as quickly fades.  It’s as if you are walking past someone who has just finished smoking a cigarette.  Michael is one of the more kind and gentle spirits at the house, and some staffers believe that he is still doing the job he loved so much when he was alive.

lawdwick borden

In 1892, the house directly next door on the South side of the Borden property was owned by the Kelley family.  Prior to the Kelley family, the house was owned by Lawdwick Borden.  Lawdwick was Andrew Borden’s uncle.  In 1848, Lawdwick was living in the house with his second wife Eliza Darling Borden.  Eliza had born Lawdwick three children, and it’s thought that what she did to them was caused by post-partum depression.  Eliza dropped all three of her children into the cistern in the cellar. She then went upstairs and committed suicide by slitting her own throat.  Mary, the oldest child, survived.  However, Eliza, who was just two years old, and her infant brother Holder, drowned.  It is believed that the family connection between Lawdwick and Andrew Borden is why the spirits of Holder and Eliza now haunt the third floor of 92 Second St.

Guests and staff report numerous interactions with the children.  They can often be heard giggling and playing on the third floor landing.  In the corner of the room is a toy chest filled with dolls, plastic farm animals, books, and stuffed animals.  Guests who stay overnight in the room, will often leave small gifts for the children in the chest.

One paranormal investigation team, which regularly holds ghost hunting events at the house, invites participants to play “the leg game”.  Someone from the group is asked to lie on the bed with their feet touching the floor and then to encourage the children to come and lift their legs.  Often, the volunteer will find their legs being slowly lifted until both feet are hovering several inches from the floor.  This can last for several moments, and participants report the sensation of small, cool hands gently gripping their ankles as their feet are lifted.

There is a tour guide at the house who tells his tours that he often reads to the children from one of the books in the toy chest.  One guest reports that she decided to record herself while reading to the children.  When she played the recording back, she heard a child’s voice asking “Where’s Ben?”  Ben is the name of the tour guide who reads to the children.

The cellar of the Borden house contains something that is not known for being friendly.  Some investigators and guests believe this spirit to be demonic in nature. Some believe it to be some sort of elemental; a non-human being that has likely been there since long before the house was built, or the city itself, established.

Whatever it is, it’s known as Mr. Stinky by some of the staff.  This entity is almost never encountered anywhere but in the cellar and even then, it doesn’t appear often.  As the name suggests, anyone who runs into Mr. Stinky is enveloped in the smells of rotting meat and something like burning butter.  It can be overwhelming to the point where guests and staff have choked and gagged on the scent.  Occasionally, the scent is accompanied by the strong sensations of being watched and a deep chill in the air.  The sensations and scent pass quickly and are gone, but while they are there, it can be a truly frightening experience.

Some people have reported feeling as if they are being pushed up the cellar stairs as they return to the first floor.  They say it feels as if “something” doesn’t want them there.

There are stories of another murder taking place in the cellar of the house during the 1920’s, when prohibition was in full swing and there have been reports of a shadowy figure seen on the cellar stairs, and the back stairs that lead from the kitchen up to Andrew and Abby’s bedroom.

Want to get to know the ghosts at 92 Second St., a bit better?  The house is open for daytime tours 7 days a week.  Better yet, make your next vacation a spooky one and stay the night!