Bed & Breakfast & Borden Murder

One of my favorite pieces of writing is an essay by Sarah Vowell entitled “God Will Give You Blood to Drink in a Souvenir Shot Glass.” (The essay is collected in The Partly Cloudy Patriot but sadly does not seem to be available online on its own anywhere. The book is worth seeking out if you haven’t read it and you’re into nerdy historical tourism.) Anyway, the essay is about tourism in sites of historical tragedies, mainly Salem, Massachusetts, and how odd it is to reconcile having a fun, enjoyable tourist time in a site where horrible atrocities were committed. As a recent transplant to Massachusetts, I’ve also visited Salem and also had a great time enjoying the beautiful town where young women were put to death a long time ago.

The Lizzie Borden B&B has really leaned into that whole vibe. When you walk into the house, you start, of course, with the gift shop, which features Lizzie Borden bobble heads and baby onesies printed with “I love my Mommy TO DEATH” with a little axe. It’s very light-hearted for the site of a gruesome double-murder. But the murders were a long time ago, so now we can have fun.


We’re here to investigate a murder, but let’s have fun with it!

Lizzie Borden B&B

The house itself was, well…like a B&B. It’s furnished with period-appropriate furniture, but it’s also a working B&B, so everything that’s out is sat upon and slept upon by tourists every day. As we went through on our tour, getting more details about the day-to-day life of the Bordens and the murder itself, I just couldn’t get over the fact that people pay money to sleep in this B&B every day.


Skull Replicas

Just a curio cabinet with some replica murder skulls, like every B&B has


What's A Home Without a Father?

Ironic cross-stitch and significant replica key; apparently Andrew Borden knew that Lizzie had stolen some trolley tickets and money from him and responded by keeping his door locked but the key out in plain sight as some kind of test…


Naturally they leave a replica hatchet lying around for you to pose with

Naturally they leave a replica hatchet lying around for you to pose with


Naturally we posed with the hatchet

Naturally we posed with the hatchet


We have fun



The maid's bed

A photo of the maid Bridget, a stuffed cat, and a bed that B&B guests sleep in


Wouldn't it be fun to check in on the spirits of the 2 people who were horribly murdered here?

Wouldn’t it be fun to check in on the spirits of the 2 people who were horribly murdered here?





Anyway, it was a fun day trip, and we learned a moderate amount about history. It also did help contextualize the weird book about Lizzie Borden we read–how dysfunctional the family was, how oddly laid out their house was, and how many pears there were. (Listen to the podcast episode for more details.) If you’re ever in the area I’d recommend the Lizzie Borden house as an interesting day trip, if you’re into that kind of thing. If nothing else you can take some really ominous Facebook profile photos there.


What kind of a woman doesn't have a hatchet?


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  1. Pingback: Episode 84 – Lizzie Borden | The Worst Bestsellers

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