Own the house where Lizzie Borden lived out her life after the brutal murders she was acquitted of.
The 3 story, 8 bedroom Queen Anne Victorian home in Fall River, Massachusetts once owned and occupied by Lizzie Borden is for sale. Lizzie was accused of the murders of her father and stepmother with a hatchet on August 4, 1892. When she was acquitted the following year, she and her sister Emma left the house where the murders happened and, using the money from their father’s estate, bought the sprawling 1889 mansion Lizzie dubbed “Maplecroft” in a wealthy area of the city known as “the Hill.”
Nearly a year after the murders, despite the fact that Lizzie had been found not guilty, the Borden sisters still could not escape the the scrutiny of their neighbors. An article in the September 10, 1893 edition of the New York Times noted the Fall River community criticized Lizzie’s lack of common courtesy, as they believed she should have been wearing black in remembrance of her father.
“Emma Borden has always worn black since the day of the tragedy,” the article reported, “and whenever the two sisters appear in public together, one in the habiliments of grief, the other in a suit of light-colored material, Fall River takes it all in, splutters about it, and thinks that, after all that has occurred, she might ‘wear a bit of mourning.'”
One of Maplecroft’s six fireplaces
Though friends of the Bordens told reporters they hoped the sisters could drop out of sight, it didn’t seem likely. The old Borden house had also become a popular tourist destination by the time Lizzie was freed.
“The police stationed at the railroad stations and wharves, and in the center of the city, say that the curiosity of the traveling public to see the famous Borden house on Second street remains undiminished,” the New Bedford Evening Standard reported on July 1, 1883, “and that the first question asked them by any traveler who is obliged to wait, no matter how short a time in the city for a train or boat, is, ‘Have I time to go up to Lizzie Borden’s house where the murder’s were committed?’ This question, they say, is asked of them hundreds of times a day.”
“The insatiable interest and curiosity in the fearful mystery,” the article continued, “has precluded any thought of continuing to reside there unless Lizzie and Emma desire to be stared at whenever they make their appearance, with much the same interest that is shown toward dime museum freaks.”
Is that Lizzie Borden’s stereoscope?
The first house the sisters attempted to buy was the Butterworth house. Those close to the them found it a surprising choice, considering the notoriety of the home was second only to the Borden’s own. The former owner was a highly respected Fall River citizen by the name of Alfred D. Buttersworth. He was a traveling salesman for the Hargraves Soap Co., a member of the Masonic Hall, and the Butchers Rendering Association. He fell ill in the winter, and hanged himself from a tree on Elsbree Lane in April of 1892.
Despite the history, the home was “far enough removed from the center of activity to afford the sisters something of the seclusion for which they have yearned,” the Evening Standard wrote.
For unknown reasons, possibly due to hostility from the Borden’s prospective neighbors, the sale fell through. The sisters purchased Maplecroft soon after.
“The orphans have shaken from their presense surroundings that must have been a nightmare for them,” the September 24, 1893 edition of the New York Times wrote. “They are reveling in the luxories of bathtubs, substantial food and plenty of it, the actual comforts of home life, and delicacies to which years they were living strangers. And they are at last living in a style becoming to their means and in a manner agreeable to their tastes.”
Emma moved out after an argument in 1905. The sisters never saw each other again. Lizzie, then going by the name Lizbeth, lived in Maplecroft until her death on June 1, 1927.
The current owner has restored to the home and filled it with period-appropriate furnishings. The asking price is $799,000. See more photos right here.
Lizzie’s permanent residence is is nearby Oak Grove Cemetery.