Painting of the FRHS by Timothy Belt.

Founded in 1921, Fall River Historical Society (FRHS), the oldest cultural institution in Fall River, Massachusetts, is an important resource for scholars, researchers, other museums and historical societies, and the local community. Dedicated to preserving the history of Fall River and sharing it with the public, we maintain significant collections of costumes and accessories, decorative arts, furniture, ephemera, photographs, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and manuscripts. We also have distinguished maritime and Fall River textile industry collections.

The museum is housed in a French Second Empire mansion that was once a station on the Underground Railroad. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the structure features a magnificent period interior, while our beautiful grounds with Victorian gardens provide a memorable venue for functions such as weddings and cocktail parties and for special events. Our exhibits include the world’s largest collection of artifacts pertaining to the life and trial of Lizzie Borden, and the FRHS curators are recognized as leading Borden case authorities. Our distinctions also include The Charlton Library of Fall River History, a first-rate Museum Shop & Boutique, our annual Holiday Open House, and Easton Tea Room, a popular spot for social events and meetings.

To promote public understanding of Fall River history, we stage exhibits, host lecture series, and partner with the city and other organizations to present events for the benefit of the community. We are a leading provider of cultural and family-friendly events such as plays, concerts, and festivals.


Incorporated in 1921, Fall River Historical Society (FRHS), a Public Charity, is the oldest cultural institution in the city and is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting artifacts relative to the history and multi-cultural people of Fall River. We serve the public through exhibitions, educational programs, publications, and cultural events, and frequently partner with the city and other non-profit organizations in presenting events for the benefit of the community. 

The FRHS is recognized in the Greater Fall River area as a leading provider of innovative cultural programming.


Fall River Historical Society was founded by a group of individuals intent on preserving the history of Fall River, once an important textile center with the distinction of being the world’s largest producer of cotton cloth. The Society was originally housed in rented rooms in the Buffington Building, a commercial structure that was destroyed by fire in 1928. At that time, the majority of the collection acquired by the organization was lost, save a few important artifacts. The organization found a permanent home in 1935 when David Anthony Brayton (1900 – 1975), scion of a prominent city family, donated the residence of his late aunt, Elizabeth Hitchcock Brayton (1865 – 1935). Remarkable for its fine state of preservation, the structure, once a station on the Underground Railroad, is the only intact example of the mansions built by the affluent mill owners during the period of Fall River’s greatest prosperity.

The FRHS operates as both a house and local history museum, featuring period room settings and exhibits on various topics. Its holdings of objects, ephemera, and archival material constitute the largest and most important collection of its kind.



Jay Lambert, President
Mark Gendreau, Vice-President
C. Bennett Brown, Second Vice-President

Betty M. Welch, Treasurer
Joseph Borges, Assistant Treasurer
Kathleen Rockett, Secretary


Margot Cottrell
Jayne Darcy
Dr. Jason J. Diogo
Donna Dunn
Marilyn T. Farias

Angelina Gastall
Robert Kitchen
Susan Lavoie
Betty Prescott
Denise Sherman


J. Thomas Cottrell Jr.
Elizabeth Wells Denning


Michael Martins

Dennis A. Binette


Kathryn S. Croan

Caroline Aubin
Cynthia Harrington




Christmas at the FRHS

Victorian Christmas at the Fall River Historical Society,” Pinterest, Frank Grace (Dec. 2014)

Visit Southeastern Massachusetts: Deck the Halls! Annual Holiday Open House,” VisitMass.com (Dec. 12, 2014)

Home for the Holidays,” SouthCoastToday.com (Dec. 10, 2014)

Fall River Historical Society Decks its Halls,” Brian J. Lowney, Fall River Herald News (Dec. 1, 2014)

Fall River Historical Society Transforms into Winter Wonderland,” SouthCoastToday.com (Nov. 28, 2013)


Historical Society Invites 14 Floral Designers to Display their Talents in Second Annual Period Exhibition,” SouthCoastToday.com (April 24, 2015)

Art and Artifacts Exhibit Features Florals Based on Fall River Historical Society Pieces,” Deborah Allard, Patriot Ledger, (April 8, 2015)

Catholic Memorial Home Residents Repeating History,” Kenneth J. Souza, The Anchor (Dec. 23, 2014)

Project Seeks Stories of Fall River’s Mill Workers,” SouthCoastToday.com (Sept. 17, 2014)

Art Blooms at the Fall River Historical Society,” William A. Moniz, SouthCoastToday.com (July 2, 2014)

Art and Artifacts in Bloom will Blossom at Fall River Historical Society,” Deborah Allard, Fall River Herald News (May 22, 2014)

Side Streets: Letters Home from the Civil War,” Marc Monroe Dion, FallRiverWickedLocal.com (May 8, 2014) 


Hop on a Trolley for Historical Society’s Witches and Warlocks Tour,” Fall River Herald News (Oct. 8, 2014)


South Park: How Open Space in a Growing City was Preserved,” William A. Moniz, SouthCoastToday.com (Aug. 11, 2014)

Fall River Embraced Professional Baseball in Early Years,” William A. Moniz, SouthCoastToday.com (Aug. 1, 2014)

When Circus Came to Town, Fall River Paid Attention,” William A. Moniz, SouthCoastToday.com (July 25, 2014)

SIDE STREETS: Circus was Once a Staple of Fall River Entertainment,” Marc Monroe Dion, WickedLocalFallRiver.com (July 19, 2014)

July Lecture to Explore Fall River’s ‘Interesting’ History,” William A. Moniz, SouthCoastToday.com (July 19, 2014)

Fall River Historical Society to Host Summer Lecture Series,” Deborah Allard, Fall River Herald News (July 16, 2013)

Lizzie Borden Artifacts

Rare Photo of Lizzie Borden’s Home Displayed at Fall River Historical Society,” CBSBoston.com (Aug. 4, 2014)

Rare Photo Taken Inside Lizzie Borden’s Home will be Unveiled to Public on Monday” WickedLocalFallRiver.com (July 31, 2014)

Rare Photo Taken Inside Lizzie Borden’s Home will be Unveiled to the Public on Monday,” Taunton Daily Gazette (July 31, 2014)

TV Show Takes Another Whack at Lizzie Legend,” Deborah Allard, WickedLocalFallRiver.com (July 30, 2014)

Rare Photo of Lizzie Borden’s Home to be Displayed,” SouthCoastToday.com (July 30, 2014)

Rare Photo of Interior of Lizzie Borden’s Home to go on Display,” Providence Journal (July 29, 2014)

New Artifacts to go on Display at Lizzie Borden Exhibit,” Fall River Herald News (Aug. 3, 2013)

New Lizzie Borden Exhibit to Open in August,” Providence Journal (June 26, 2013)

Lizzie Borden Murder Mystery Exhibit,” CoastalMags.com (June 17, 2013)

Teapot with Tie to Lizzie Borden Donated,” Boston Herald (May 17, 2013)

Teapot Given to Historical Society Offers Piece of Lizzie Borden Story,” Fall River Herald News (May 17, 2013)

New and Never-Before-Seen Borden Items, Post-Mortem Pictures on Exhibit at Historical Society,” Fall River Herald News (Aug. 12, 2012)

Echoes of Lizzie: the 120th Anniversary of the Borden Murders,” Examiner.com (Aug. 4, 2012)

New Exhibit on Lizzie Borden Opening in Fall River for Anniversary of Sensational Killings,” Boston Globe (Aug. 4, 2012)

Lizzie Borden Murder Mystery Case: Journals by her lawyer found,” DailyMail.com (Marcy 12, 2012)

Museum Shop & Boutique

Fine Presents at Fall River Historical Society Shop & Boutique,” Fall River Herald News (Nov. 24, 2014)

Think Outside the Big-Box Stores by Shopping at Fall River Historical Society Shop & Boutique,” Fall River Herald News (Nov. 24, 2014)

Fall River Historical Society Museum Shop Ready for the Holidays,” Fall River Herald News (Nov. 16, 2013)

Museum Shop at Fall River Historical Society Features Season’s Eatings,” Fall River Herald News (Nov. 12, 2012)

Palette Pictures Art Exhibit

Palette Pictures VI,” VisitMass.com (Dec. 12, 2014)

Fall River Historical Society Hosts Silent Auction Featuring Local Artists,” Fall River Herald News (Nov. 29, 2013)

The Perfect Palette of Gifts,” Fall River Herald News (Nov. 23, 2012)

Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River

Historians: ‘Lizzie Borden’ Film a Hatchet Job,” Fall River Herald News (Jan. 27, 2014)

A Fresh Eye on Fall River, Mass,” New York Times (Jan. 2, 2014)

Where to Find the Sources Used in ‘Enduring Mystery: The Life and Trials of Lizzie Borden,” Providence Journal (June 27, 2013)

Parallel Lives by Michael Martins, Dennis A. Binette,” Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2012)

Lizzie Borden Book ‘Parallel Lives’ Receives Kirkus Star,” Fall River Herald News (June 13, 2012)

‘Parallel Lives’ Book on Lizzie Borden Wins Honorable Mention,” Fall River Herald News (March 5, 2012)

Historical Society Announces ‘First True Biography’ of Lizzie Borden,” Fall River Herald News (Oct. 25, 2011)

Saturday Evening Serenades

Saturday Evening Serenades Set at Fall River Historical Society,” SouthCoastToday.com (Aug. 4, 2014)

Dance Under the Stars at Fall River Historical Society Event,” Fall River Herald News (Aug. 7, 2014)

Free Concerts Slated at the Fall River Historical Society,” Fall River Herald News (July 30, 2014)

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park: Merry Wives of Windsor at Fall River Historical Society,” VisitMass.com (July 19, 2014)

Outdoor Play Features Two Classic Shakespearean Tales this Month,” Fall River Herald News (July 10, 2014)

Historic Fall River Mansion the Backdrop for ‘Shrew’,” Fall River Herald News (July 24, 2012)

Sights & Sounds of the Season Festival

Historical Society Brings Joy to Kids with Christmas Fest,” Brian Fraga, Fall River Herald News (Dec. 1, 2014)

Enjoy the Holidays in the Highlands this Sunday,” Fall River Herald News (Nov. 26, 2014)

Families Take in Sights & Sounds of the Season at Historical Society, Jo C. Goode, Fall River Herald News (Dec. 9, 2013)


We produce a monthly newsletter, Here & Now, and an annual report; copies of both are available on this site. To subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.

Fall River Historical Society has published two books. Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River, written by our curators Michael Martins and Dennis A. Binette, has more new material about Lizzie Borden—including the personal reminiscences of those who knew her best—than all the other books about her combined. It was selected as one of the Best Books of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews and received the coveted Kirkus starred review. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Lizzie A. Borden: The Knowlton Papers 1892–1893, edited by Martins and Binette, is a watershed collection of previously unpublished documents on the Borden case.