To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...of Murder
I could not have guessed, before spending the night inside the infamous murder house of Fall River, Massachusetts, that I'd come to know more about the people that lived and died in it, than I ever imagined. The Bordens, it seems - daughters Lizzie and Emma, father Andrew and stepmother Abigail - weren't a very happy family.
This past May, Ryan and I spent the night in the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast; any dark tourist's irrefutable crown of murder houses. We had perfectly splendid spring weather, a clear night, and good company. The home is set up for rentals by room, floor, or the whole house. As excellent as it could be to have the entire place to oneself, it's a costly affair to rent an entire living house museum, so we rented the John Morse room on the second floor. This is also the room in which Abby Borden met her end.
The entire home is decorated with the kind of antique furnishings found in stores that cater to high-spending clients. Full, solid wood and marble-topped dressers, dressing tables and sideboards. Rich patterned wallpaper, hand painted oil lamps updated with electric wiring - the entire affair is on-point as far as recreating the home's interior circa 1892. There's even nearly exact replicas of the original Borden furniture in the locations of the murders of Abby and Andrew. It's stunning how much detail has been attended to, in order to give the home an acute feeling of existing more than a century before, while in the present moment. Upon entering, guests are swept up into Victorian Massachusetts within in a few steps.
Accompanying that ambiance of the Gilded Age is a more difficult feeling to articulate. It's similar to the feeling of being watched, but more like having someone just out of sight or one room away - standing silently and waiting intently for you to move or make noise before following you onward through the doorways and connected corridors. There aren't too many photos of the Borden family with their eyes facing toward the camera, so they're not following you from their former visages in more than 2 rooms, perhaps. Yet still, something seems to stare outward from all four walls and the ceiling at once, wherever one is standing. I don't know how else to describe it precisely, but it's more of an intelligence and awareness from the space itself than can be attributed to an individual person.