Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 07-11-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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28 THE VALLEY JULY 11-17, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION Taking two or three pieces of fur- niture out of the Borden house at a time, often alone, has been a weird and creepy experience, he said. Frances and his team are using time-lapse photography and also videotaping the entire restoration process. The couch is expected to be completed by the end of this week. Playing a role in maintaining his- tory is big for the town and for busi- ness, said Frances, who, like many people, is convinced that Lizzie Borden was the killer. "Just look in her eyes and you can see it," he says, smiling. Alan Frances' father, the late Bob Frances, started Bob Frances Interiors in 1948. The Mineral Spring Avenue mainstay is celebrat- ing its 70th anniversary this year. Many upholsterers have closed their doors, due in part to people ditching expensive restoration for the conve- nience of buying new, said Frances, but also due to a lack of people get- ting the five-year education needed to get into the profession. Though there are few upholster- ers left, there are many thousands of antiques still in circulation, said Frances, part of the reason he doesn't see his company going out of business anytime soon. He said he's been fortunate to retain longtime employees such as Ryan Clausius, who started at the business nearly 20 years ago before he'd turned 20. Though black and white crime scene photos make it impossible to say for sure, the couch Borden's father was found on was originally thought to be black, so in keeping with that thought and the wide- spread use of velvet at the time, Frances and his staff are redoing the circa-1870 furniture piece in vintage black velvet. The picture of Borden's father lying dead on the couch, as well as others at the scene, were the first known crime scene photos taken in the United States. The couch – as well as other pieces of furniture at the home – has experienced extensive wear and tear over the years, said Frances. Signatures on the wood underneath show that it's been redone a number of times. Unlike modern furniture, there are numerous inconsistencies brought about due to handcrafting of the piece, said Frances. "You don't consider it an imperfec- tion, you call it artwork," he said. The total cost of restoring the couch is about $2,700, said Frances. Contributing to the cost is the fact that the person who reupholstered it previously covered over the old fabric, a big no-no in the furniture restoration world, complicating the project. Frances said he doesn't expect the relationship with the owners of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum, Donald Woods and Lee- ann Wilber, to end with the comple- tion of the famed couch. The owners on Feb. 1 purchased the Fall River home Borden moved into after her acquittal, known as Maplecroft, and that home is also fully furnished. Woods and Wilber told The Herald News after the purchase of Maplecroft that they intended to tell the second part of the "complex" life of Borden. Lizzie Borden became the main suspect in the 1892 murders of her father and stepmother, Andrew and Abby, in Fall River. She was tried and acquitted of the crime, and though many believed she would then move away from the place where she was looked at sus- piciously, she stayed, moving into Maplecroft using the inheritance she'd won at the death of Abby. Among the issues with the inves- tigation were strange and contradic- tory statements from Borden, lack of a thorough search of Borden's room, and the fact that none of the hatchets found in the basement were removed from the house. No one else was ever charged in the unsolved murder, though there have been a number of other theo- ries on suspects. The case has been the subject of numerous TV shows and perfor- mances since. Frances said he encourages any- one who's fascinated by history and its more gory elements to visit the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum for a full tour. Visit www. for details. For more information, email afran- COUCH From Page 3 BREEZE PHOTO BY ETHAN SHOREY ALAN FRANCES explains the process of restoring an old piece of furniture as his employees work on various parts during a visit to his Mineral Spring Avenue busi- ness last Friday. 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