Is the home of Lizzie Borden a haunted vacation spot?

The Borden House today

The Borden House today

On August 4, 1892, wealthy businessman Andrew Borden, and his wife, Abby, were brutally hacked to death in their home.  Andrew’s 32-year-old spinster daughter, Lizzie, was arrested for the double murder.  Over a century later, the scene of one of the most gruesome unsolved mysteries in U.S. history is open for business.  The Borden home is now the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. 

Visitors can enjoy an informative chat about the sadistic murders while eating a breakfast of johnnycakes and mutton broth—the same meal Abby and Andrew Borden ate on their final day.  Then after a long day of sightseeing, they can sleep in the same bedroom where Abby Borden’s body was discovered, lifeless on the floor.

Not surprisingly, most people do not sleep easily.  According to owner Martha McGinn, many guests have reported that the inn is haunted:

“I think the apparitions and all the activity that has been happening in the house, it’s a possibility that the spirits are trying to communicate through myself, my staff, or my guests of who really committed the murders so they can rest in peace, put the story to sleep once and for all.”

Lizzie Borden was never convicted of the brutal murders.  Nobody knows who committed the savage crime… Nobody, except the victims themselves, all of whom are long since dead.  Or are they?

In 1968, Martha McGinn moved into the Borden house, which had been purchased by her grandparents 43 years earlier. According to Martha, she soon became aware of an unsettling presence lurking in the shadows of the aging building:

“When I was about 16 years old, I was in my bedroom reading a book, and above my room I could distinctly hear footsteps and the sound of, like marbles being played and it almost sounded like little children’s laughter.”

Later, Martha witnessed another strange phenomenon, this one far more disturbing than the last:

“ I went up the stairway, and the window at the end of the second-floor corridor just began opening and slamming shut.  It was just violently going up and down.  I got the creepy crawlers that time.”

Martha became convinced that a ghost was prowling her home, tormenting her at every opportunity. But who? And why?  The answer to that question may have come when Martha made the mistake of entering the basement alone: 

“A shadow, sort of like a silhouette, floated maybe four inches above the floor. I could tell it was a woman.  I could tell it was Victorian clothes.  I just turned around and ran back up the stairs.  That experience really did frighten me. That actually did make my hair stand on end.”

In 1994, Martha inherited the Borden house and decided to capitalize on its infamous reputation by turning it into a very unusual bed and breakfast:

“When we first opened, I had hired my staff.  Most of them, at the time, did not believe in ghosts or apparitions or anything like that.  And then odd things started happening to them.”

Kerri Roderick was one of the first employees to be hired:

“I arrived at work to start cleaning the house, and I was on my last room, and I had made the bed and cleaned, dusted, and everything.  And then I turned around, and there was the perfect impression of somebody laying on the bed. The indent in the pillow, in the bed.  I looked at it for, like, a couple of seconds, and then I booked it out of the room.  I had to leave. I was just—it scared me.  ‘Cause I’d never seen anything like that before in my life.”

But the most frequent sightings occurred in the downstairs parlor, the very location where Andrew Borden was killed.  Eleanor Thimbault, the night manager at the bed and breakfast, recalled one such sighting:

“I was sitting in the parlor, and on the phone, and this strange feeling came over me, a very eerie feeling.  When I looked up to the kitchen door, I saw what I thought was all this smoke coming out of the kitchen, like a foggy smoke.  And I thought to myself, well, that’s strange. There isn’t anybody in the kitchen cooking.  Why would all this smoke be coming out?  The way it traveled, very slow, until it got to the sofa—where Mr. Borden was hacked to death—and it just dissipated.  I know I saw something that was out of this world.  It wasn’t from this world, that’s for sure.”

Author and ghost-hunter, Katherine Ramsland, believed that Andrew and Abby Borden were trying to tell the employees who killed them.  In an attempt to document the paranormal activity, Ramsland went into the basement of the bed and breakfast armed with a voice-activated recorder:

“It was very dark. And I just simply said, is anybody here? And we could see that the recorder was activated.  But we could hear nothing. It was absolute silence, and yet it was clear something was being recorded.  So I decided, instead of asking any more questions, I would just see what we had gotten.  We shot up the steps… ‘Cause we weren’t staying down there with that, whatever it was.”

A noise from the dead or static electricity?  No one knows for sure.  Katherine Ramsland believes the recording is the first solid evidence that Abby and Andrew Borden are ready to share the chilling circumstances of their bloody end.  And she hopes that maybe, someday, one of them will tell us what really happened on August 4, 1892.