I've already stated in a previous post that I'm opposed to the idea of a Lizzie Borden museum being located in Salem and really anywhere outside of our area. My view is simple, the history happened here and so this should be the place where people come to experience it. My view on this is pretty much set in stone. However a blog post over at Fall River Community brings up an excellent point, that Fall River fails to market itself very well. It's a great point, and I urge you to read the post.
So, on the eve of the 116th anniversary of the Borden murders, the question is how do we market Lizzie?
The problem is, FRC is right, we do a horrible job of marketing. In the case of Lizzie Borden so much could be done with little investment and the payoff could be significant. To start with let's focus on August!
Every August 4th all the local papers run some blurb about the Borden murders. It's not uncommon for the Borden case to get some national attention once the anniversary roles around. First, let's move Fall River Celebrates America to mid-July or late August so we're not clashing events. Now let's promote the re-enactments that typically take place at the Borden B&B. Let's dust off the trolleys that the Mayor has been talking about and have tours of all the relevant Borden sites. This would include the Borden House, and a drive to Oak Grove, and Maplecroft, the former Congregational Church, maybe the Highland homes of Lizzie's friends and relatives. The Abby Grill could host breakfasts of johnny cakes and bananas . People could take walking tours of Andrew Borden's morning routine and follow his final footsteps.
A 'temporary' museum could be set up, perhaps in a downtown location. Large photos of the main characters, biographies, maps of the city and more would be on display. Lectures could be held on a variety of topics, from in depth looks at the lives of the people involved, discussions of the various theories, the science of the case and more. A mock trial would certainly be a feature.
This shouldn't be gimmicky or hokey, it should simply be a few days or a week were Fall River draws back the curtains and let's the world in to examine a mystery that has fascinated people for over a hundred years.
Of course there are the natural tie ins. The Fall River Historical Society & the homeowners in the Highlands that might want to offer a tour of their homes. Then there's the not-so natural tie ins. This is the opportunity to promote Battleship Cove, Almac's Diner, Fall River's textile history, festivals and all the other noteworthy stuff about our city. This is the time to plant the seeds for a return trip. This could all be put together with donations from area businesses. It just needs to be well thought out and well executed.
Every August people's interest in a century-old murder is renewed and their curiosity piqued. We've been looking for a way to get people to come to Fall River, let's give Lizzie a whack at it!