You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘The August 4th Annual Re-Enactments’ category.

Chances are good that if you have dropped in at #92 Second Street, you will have met Will Clawson.  The genial cook, daytime tour guide, night time innkeeper and gift shop employee is a presence all around the house.  Will started work last October helping out retired past chef, Dave Quigley- and has now mastered the art of jonnycake-making on the cranky old black 1905 kitchen stove. 

 Will originally hails from California and inherited his interest in the Borden case from his Dad.  After a few years at school in Toronto, and a Master’s degree in Spanish Medieval History (“so helpful to the Borden case,”  he jokes),  Will has landed in the Fall River area.  After taking a day tour at the house, Will applied for a job at “Lizzie’s” and was immediately hired.

“There’s a lot of nuance with Lizzie.  Although I am convinced of her guilt and have no sympathy for her, I think she may have had a genuine affection for her father.  Andrew was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Will enjoys the night tours most- with lots of time to have relaxed conversations with guests about the famous case. 

“The case is a total snapshot of Victorian society in New England in 1892,” says Will, an avid history buff.

As to the paranormal aspects at the house which seem to have developed greatly recently,

“I’m a skeptic, but some odd things do happen!”

If Will could be anybody specifically on the day in 1892, it would be John Morse, Lizzie’s uncle; “He was right in the thick of it!”, or Officer Fleet who had the chance to interrogate Lizzie.  The Crowe’s barn roof hatchet is Will’s pick for the murder weapon.  “The handless hatchet was not new and did not have a sharp edge with gilt.”

Will portrays Officer Phil Harrington in his first time out as an actor.  “Harrington had an extraordinary eye for fashion,” says Will, referring to Harrington’s remarkably detailed description of Lizzie’s pink wrapper.  Harrington tragically died on his honeymoon shortly after Lizzie was acquitted in 1893.

Will is also a new member of The Second Street Irregulars and passed his initiation with flying colors to become an official “Mutton Eater” this past April.


As the date for the annual re-enactment at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast approaches, a few new members will be joining the cast for 2010.  Over the next couple of weeks, more about this year’s cast, costuming and script will appear.  Stop by and visit often!

Presenting Miss Manning- Molly O’Brien!

Good things do come in small packages. The petite Molly O’Brien joins our cast this year in the “imagined” role of Miss Manning, reporter from the Fall River Herald.  Molly has some serious acting chops and costuming credits for a young ingénue!  Arriving at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in October of 2009, she has become a welcome addition to the staff of daytime tour guides with her bubbling enthusiasm for the case, and cheerful presence. Molly’s character will be a take-off on the real Mr. Manning, who, after a timely call from passerby John Cunningham, arrived at the Borden house soon after the discovery of Andrew Borden’s body on August 4, 1892.  “Miss Manning” will be interviewing Lizzie’s Uncle John Morse, hoping for a “scoop”.

“Lizzie did it.  She was in the right place, had the time, and most of all- she had the best motive.  But I think Bridget saw and knew something about it all,” said Molly on the topic of whodunnit.

If Molly could be one person on the fateful day, it would be Alice Russell, who was in a position to observe everything as she stayed at the Borden house after the maid quit on Friday. The weapon, she feels, was the hatchet later found on the top of Crowe’s barn and was the weapon for both homicides.

On the topic of whether or not Lizzie Borden deserves any sympathy for her life after the acquittal Molly believes, “If you are convinced she did it, she deserves none- nobody should have to die the way the Bordens did.”  Molly was inducted this past April into the Noble Order of Mutton Eaters and is a member of the Second Street Irregulars. Uncle John will not be able to resist the charms of Miss Manning!


Some candid photos from the camera of Barbara Morrissey (Emma Borden), at the Borden House, Oak Grove Cemetery and Maplecroft on August 4, 2009.


A big thank you to all who have sent in photos and helped with the big day: the P.E.P. 2009 cast, Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum staff (Dee and John, Donald and LeeAnn, Dave, Logan, Deb and her daughters, Emily, Ed Thibault,), Don Sykes, Bob Shaw, ( there’s a big part for you next year, Don!!), Debbie Allard at the Herald News, the folks at Channel 10, Fall River Spirit, Rick Rebello, the visitors and guests at #92 who support us every year with their enthusiasm and attendance- and Bob Dube who graciously gave us a look at Lizzie’s life at Maplecroft. And now- on to August 4, 2010- with a few surprises in store! 

Visit us often at our new address the old address will still bring you here. This slide show courtesy of Lorraine & Ted Gregoire.

Joe Madza’ s just too nice a guy to be playing old Uncle John, Lizzie Borden’s so-called peculiar relative.  John, who stayed in the guest room where Abby Borden would be murdered the next day has always been a somewhat sinister personality. Many think John knew about the murders, helped to plan and assist the assailant, or maybe even had a hand in it himself!  His alibis were nearly too perfect.  The only thing not clear was a motive.

pearbwJoe ‘s interest in the case began with a vengeance after viewing the 1975 Elizabeth Montgomery television film when he was a college freshman. “I was both admiring and appalled at the same time that a woman could do such a thing.”  Many applaud Lizzie’s grit in getting what she wanted and then soothe their conscience by saying the elderly Bordens were not nice and probably deserved what they got!  “We have to somehow justify approving of murder,” Joe says sheepishly.

The Victorian and Egyptian eras have a great resonance for Joe- and he wonders if reincarnation is so far-fetched.  “I felt right at home the first time I stepped into the Borden House- I had come home again.” 

When asked whose eyes he would have liked to have been looking through on the day of the murders, he responded immediately,

“Addie Churchill’s!  She was the very first on the scene, and she saw something important that day- something she would not tell.  It must have been an eyeful because she never told what it was”.

As to the killer, Joe has no doubt it was Lizzie- all the way, and solo-although others in the house and neighbors on the street knew more than they were willing to tell about the situation in the family and what they saw and heard that day.  Joe also agrees with the theory that Abby was the intended victim and Andrew was just unfortunate in coming home at the wrong time before Lizzie could concoct a reasonable alibi for the time of Abby’s murder. 

 “His was a killing of self-preservation for Lizzie- because who would have known better who could have killed Mrs. Borden and why?”

Joe has researched his character inside and out for his portrayal Tuesday.

“I don’t like Morse- I don’t think he was a very lovable man or a nice one,” Joe admits candidly. “He did not seem surprised at Abby’s death, and his behavior watching and taking it all in while eating pears under the trees in the back yard seems unnatural behavior”.

 But the chance to don a fake gray beard and look “peculiar” and sinister under the pear trees was a role too good to miss!  When Joe is not time traveling to 1892, he is an eighth grade teacher in Warren, Ohio teaching science and gifted students.  I’d bet he’s a favorite with the kids!


“I have a great sympathy for Abby Borden, she had a tough job of trying to mother those two stepdaughters,” says Shelley Dziedzic, scriptwriter for the annual re-enactments.  In younger years Shelley took on the role of Miss Lizzie, which was “very difficult as so many people come with differing expectations of Lizzie.” Since 2008, the character of the slain Mrs. Borden has been a silent one, with the deceased Mrs. Borden prone on the floor upstairs. 

“I think it is important to have visitors to the house on this day see what Bridget Sullivan the maid, and neighbor Addie Churchill saw on August 4, 1892.  It is chilling to bring to life that black and white photo we all have seen of Abby Borden dead on the floor by the bed.  To see it in 3-D and in color adds another dimension.  Most people are shocked and silent when they enter the room, their eyes going up on the wall to the crime scene photo in black and white of the same scene. This could happen today.”


Since 2007, the body of the other victim, Andrew Borden, has been carefully covered with a blood-stained sheet as he lay on the famous black sofa.

“We tried many things to capture the horror of Andrew Borden’s face- from prosthetic wounds to blood soaked eye patches but I think leaving it to the imagination of the guests by not showing everything works best.  Their inner vision of what is under the sheet is far more horrifying than anything we could create with make-up.”

Mostly Dziedzic wants people to know that the re-enactment is done with respect for the victims, and a true attempt to bring to life an historic event.

“I am always dismayed when I read a comment in the local papers or on the Internet that our group is glorifying a tragedy, or they say is a little wacky and gruesome.  I think historic re-enactors such as one finds at Gettysburg, Sturbridge, Plymouth, or Mystic Seaport or any number of places do a great service in presenting history in a visual way which will prompt people to want to learn more about what happened so long ago.”

Her dream is to one day have enough actors to take on the role of all the characters who had a part on that August morning- and to do so in real time.

“I think there just might be some real revelations if we could do it.”

Sweet Bridget from County CorkThis year the role of Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan from County Cork will be played by P.E.P. newcomer Kristin Pepe.  Shown above getting into the character on June 20th at Lizzie Borden Live, Kristin’s greatest worry is getting down the Irish brogue, which may “for an Italian gal”-  be a bit of a challenge.  Kristin joins the P.E.P. Players fresh from the Lizzie Borden Society Forum and is an intrepid Mutton Eater First Class!  A few years ago Kristin solved the pressing mystery of where Lizzie’s sister Emma went to school-Wheaton Female Seminary, now Wheaton College in Massachusetts, and has since enjoyed researching other Borden-related projects.

Over the years, Borden house employees Kathleen Cramer-Troost, Samantha Carey, Amanda, and former general office manager Michele have taken a stab at playing the Borden maid.  Looks like Kristen already knows how to serve up something tastier than mutton!

Bridget with coconut chicken

It hardly seems possible that August 4th is just around the corner again.   Rehearsals for this year’s production will take place on August 3rd, and new cast members will be learning the ropes.  This year we welcome Joe Razda of Warren, Ohio as Uncle John.  Joe comes out to Fall River for a week every year and this year will be the first character visitors will meet on August 4th.  Uncle John’s alibi was that he had been in the eastern part of the city visiting relatives at the Emery house on Weybossett St.  Joe has ordered a real hair fake beard and John’s signature gray sack suit and string tie for the occasion.

Also new to the August 4th cast this year is Ellen Borden, sister of Barbara Morrissey (our annual Miss Emma). The sisters are relatives of Lizzie through the Cook Borden line.  Ellen recently appeared with the Mutton Eaters as Dr. Bowen’s wife, Phoebe at the June 20th performance of Lizzie Borden Live at the Eagle.

Ellen and Barbara Borden

Phoebe Bowen

Check back daily for news on the production and cast members as we start the one -week countdown to the annual event!

copperIt’s nearly August 4th again on Second Street and the cast for the Tuesday re-enactments is busy with costumes, learning lines and figuring out how to spirit gum false beards on chins.  Cast parts have been assigned and this year there will be a few new characters and faces as well as a few familiar faces from years gone by.  Naturally everyone wants to know who will have the starring part of Miss Lizzie Borden. Over the years the house on Second Street has seen the role taken on by Deborah Alie, LeeAnn Wilbur, Shelley Dziedzic, Dee Moniz, and accepting  the Lizzie challenge this year is newcomer Lorraine Gregoire.  Lorraine joined P.E.P. last year in the fabricated role of “Miss Manning” of the Fall River Herald- roving Girl Reporter and was such a hit in that part, now even playing Lizzie Borden would not be daunting. Fresh from a successful portrayal of long-time Borden friend and confidante, Alice Russell, at the performance of Lizzie Borden Live on June 20th at the Eagle, Lorraine is dyeing her blonde hair brown and getting ready to channel the “spirit” of the cool Miss Lizzie B. Now that’s dedication!  Good Luck Lorraine!


Cast 2009   More on our cast coming soon!

Uncle John- Joe Razda
Bridget- Kristin Pepe
Undertaker Winward- Andrew Correia
Dr. Dolan- Ted Gregoire
Lizzie- Lorriane Gregoire
Mrs. Bowen- Ellen Borden
Mrs. Churchill- JoAnn Giovino
Abby Borden (deceased)- Shelley Dziedzic
Alice Russell- Sue Hauck
Mary Doolan- Kathryn Woods
Officer Medley- Ben Rose
Emma Borden- Barbara Morrissey
Andrew Borden (Under the Sheet)- Jeff Massan

Lambie Winner 2009 Best Actor Joe Radza as John Morse

Cast 2009

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3 other followers

April 2019
« Jul