In its first full year of new ownership, the Lizzie Borden House underwent significant restoration projects that protect the house, enhance the guest experience and preserve American history. On Friday, Lance Zaal, the new owner of the Lizzie Borden House and president and founder of US Ghost Adventures, shared the details of the preservation and restoration projects with us that were completed to protect and preserve the Lizzie Borden House, which is believed by many to be the most haunted house in the United States.
The home where America’s most infamous unsolved double murder took place in 1892, and subsequent trial of the century a year later, sold to Zaal in 2021. In 2023, the house nears its two-year mark under new ownership.
“There’s a duty to preserve American history, and as the owner of the Lizzie Borden house, I have a responsibility to protect the historical accounts and preserve the foundation and integrity of the home,” said Lance Zaal, president and founder of US Ghost Adventures. “My goal is for guests to enjoy the rich history the house has to offer, in a safe and historically accurate experience.”
Renovations and enhancements began promptly after the acquisition. During the preservation process, Zaal strengthened the foundation of the house, replaced the bathroom inflicted with mold and the rotting barn doors, restored the rotting window frame on the third floor as well as the Victorian streetlamp at the front of the house, installed a new HVAC system and added details such as new weather stripping.
“In order to enhance the guest experience, I added smart thermostats, upgraded mattresses from the ‘90s with plush hotel-grade mattresses and pillows, installed blackout blinds, upgraded old linens with luxury sheets and pillowcases, added new indoor and outdoor Victorian furniture to replace dilapidated and broken furniture, as well as added a commercial washer and dryer and enabled self-check-in and check-out,” said Zaal. “While we want the house to look and feel historic, we also want our guests to experience the comforts they enjoy.”
The gift shop was also renovated and now includes a kiosk for purchasing tour tickets and overnight stays. In the gift shop, guests now have the opportunity to purchase Lizzie Borden merchandise including an official hatchet (engravable), murder mystery board game, books, clothing, magnets, and more to commemorate their experience. Zaal also expanded the hours and offerings of the house by launching a new ghost tour and ghost hunt. Additional ghost-hunting equipment is available for guests to utilize during their visit.
“To preserve the property’s history, I transcribed more than 30 years’ worth of guest accounts who shared their experiences and used the accounts to create a virtual ‘Lizzie Library,’ and also added a recording area and books for guests to continue to record their experiences with hauntings,” said Zaal. “In addition, new props were staged in the murder scenes to represent the true crime scene photos with more accuracy, and I set up an antique camera used to take the infamous crime scene photos. For the museum display, new Victorian furniture was staged and display pieces were installed to protect and display artifacts in the museum including the dress from the 1975 movie.”
To further protect the property and the safety of the guests, Zaal installed new security cameras, replaced the front stair’s wall, which was bulging outward and removed asbestos in the basement. In addition, he added smart locks, smart lights, and motion sensors.
“We have plans to make additional improvements to preserve the house and enhance the guest experience,” said Zaal. “”When it comes to preserving an old house that receives so many visitors, it is important to consistently protect and preserve the property over time. Restoration and improvement work will be finished this year, but our dedication to maintaining the protecting a piece of Americana will never end.”