A yawn, a big pillow, a glint of ax . . .

July 21, 1995|By Providence Journal-Bulletin

FALL RIVER, Mass. -- CBS-TV came to town today. A Connecticut couple want to get married there next August. And a Derry, N.H., plumber has offered to paint the Lizzie Borden house for free.

Ever since Martha McGinn and Ronald Evans announced that they want to turn the former Borden residence into a museum and bed-and-breakfast inn, they have been overwhelmed with requests to visit the house, spend the night, even get married in the room where Abby and Andrew Borden were hacked to death on Aug. 4, 1892.

Word that the Lizzie Borden house will finally be open to the public has been percolating as fast as talk of the double murders, which shocked the nation with their brutality and dark familial subtext.

Lizzie was charged with killing her father and stepmother, but she was later acquitted after a spectacular trial. Since then, the murders have become one of the most puzzling whodunits in the annals of American crime.

CBS contacted Mr. Evans and Ms. McGinn after a Providence Journal story on Lizzie's house went over the news wires.

"It's very exciting," Mr. Evans said Wednesday. "We've been getting calls from people all over the country saying, 'It's a great idea. We can't wait to come down.' People are already asking for reservations in 1996. They want to know if they can get the murder room."

Mr. Evans said he and Ms. McGinn have been interviewed by nearly every major newspaper in the country, as well as by radio bTC stations from Florida, Iowa and San Francisco.

"We got a call from someone in Germany who wanted to book the first night we're open," said Ms. McGinn, whose grandparents lived in the house until their deaths last year.

"We got a letter from a couple in Middlebury, Conn. They want to elope next August and get married in the house," she said.

John F. McGondel, the plumber from Derry, wrote and offered to paint the house inside and out and install new plumbing in exchange for the publicity: "To be honest," he wrote, "we are eager to grow, and this would be very good resume material."

Locally, a bunch of Lizzie buffs have formed a private, nonprofit group called the International Lizzie Borden Association to help raise money to transform the Greek Revival house into a Victorian period piece.

Working from photographs of the Borden home, Ms. McGinn and Mr. Evans hope to recreate the look and feel of the original residence, complete with period furnishings. Rooms will be named after the Borden family, and guests would be able to choose the Abby and Andrew room or the Lizzie room.

They hope to open next summer, but they admit that's an optimistic goal.

Meanwhile, they are reeling from the sudden flurry of attention.

"I never expected this kind of reaction," Ms. McGinn said .

"I did, but not this fast," Mr. Evans said. "We haven't gotten one negative response so far."

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