Today we share a rags to riches story that began in Yorkshire, England in 1834 when Catholina Lambert was born to a poor paper mill worker named Samuel Lambert. I am not sure the history of the name Catholina, but he is a male. A fiesty and ambitious one, to be sure. Anyway, fast forward seventeen years and this scrawny young man made it to America with five pounds in his pocket and nowhere to go but forward.
Lambert landed in Boston and took a job as a book keeper in a silk mill at a rate of $4.00 a week. Four years later, Anson Dexter (his boss) gave him a $5,000 advance and sent him off to New York to run his store there. This is where Lambert took off. Do you know what $5,000 is? It is a one-thousand two-hundred and fifty week advance in pay. It is a twenty four year advance in pay, based on what he was earning when he began. Not. Bad. He was the boss of silk in the New World.
But the wealth doesn’t stop there. The kid did good; within three short years, he paid back the loan, had enough left over to buy out Anson’s share of his own company, and now “he is driving the bus!”
Ok so what was he doing in New York? Well, nothing. He was actually in Paterson, New Jersey: the very first industrial town in America, by design. Lambert opened silk mills and made a fortune. He then had this castle constructed as a gift to his wife, just a short ways southwest of downtown Paterson. In fact, it directly faces his mills in town, which are now just shells of buildings used for far inferior purposes today.
You can read a lot more about Lambert by clicking here.
Starting with the pictures above, let’s take a look at their home and castle. In the photo directly above, look to the far right and do you see that thing that is high above the castle? It is behind the trees and lamp post. Do you see it? It is this:
Lambert had this tower built to look upon his castle for good reason beyond simply staring at the gorgeous New York skyline. Stick around, I’ll explain in a bit. This tower is built at the high point at what is now Garrett Mountain Reservation (Olmsted Brothers project). Garrett Mountain has significance as it is a high cliff and ridge line that overlooks the valley below, facing East with New York City in the distance. A few years ago, Union soldiers in the revolutionary war used this outpost to watch for British ships heading in to New York harbor and begin traversing the few miles between here and New York City. General George Washington stationed himself at this fort for a period of time, and it is only about a twenty minute drive to Jockey Hollow in Morristown, although some reports suggest it took him longer to get there by foot and horse. Ok back to silk…
I just wanted to point this out: I love old castles because they don’t have foundations. They are built directly into the rock they rise from. Each base stone shaped perfectly for the bedrock it get married to. That is so much cooler than the concrete slabs we use for everything today. And if the 800+ year old Edinburgh Castle in Scotland can be a representation of this style, then I’d say it is a durable way to construct castles. But let’s have a peak inside:
From the front door, we are led into the dining room. The key element here is the coffered and gilded ceiling: It is covered in 22 karat gold flake. Although the chairs are covered in leather today, the original was a tapestry, presumably silk since, you know, he knew a guy…
Cathonlina and his wife Isabella Lambert over a hand carved sideboard.
After the dining room we are led into the Grand Atrium. The Lamberts loved art. Old photographs depicted the walls covered floor to ceiling in paintings, with barely any actual bare wall space in view. Almost all of the art was sold in 1913 when the silk mills had a massive strike and he needed fast money. The art we see here today is donations from family members and other historical members of the community.
Lambert had the atrium covered with a glass ceiling, because what other way is there to view beautiful works of art than under an abundance of natural light? Oh, remember that tower I mentioned earlier? It was actually constructed because there was a problem with kids hanging out on the cliffs above throwing rocks at Lambert’s castle, breaking some of the windows. He actually had the tower built so a guard could keep watch of his property. True story! …or so they say.
The 11 foot tall statue on a marble base in the center of the room is a clock, built in France around 1867. It is 3,000 pounds on this marble floor that has a basement underneath.
Also, it is not for sale.
Off the Grand Atrium we have the Drawing room. The circular design of the room, and its position, gave the residents and guests a panoramic view of Paterson- which at that time, would have been something nice to look at. One note about this room is that if you look under the windows you will see radiators. That is not a retrofit- from its inception, this house was fitted with a large coal boiler and steam pipes and radiators for heat. Every fire place in this house, and there are many, are purely for decoration and tradition purposes- none have ever been fired, nor could they be.
Also off the Grand Atrium we have the… what do they call it today… a “breakfast nook.” Some nook. Anyway, back when the Lamberts resided here you could not enter the breakfast room this way. You had to enter by way of the drawing room, because this large opening did not exist. The interior walls were covered with a lattice to give it a garden feel, and through the four windows you would overlook their large Italian-inspired outdoor garden and plaza, which sadly no longer exists.
I did not find a plaque about these sculptures that are outside the breakfast room, but look at the beauty: There is one figure on each side of the lamb’s neck holding a flower-laden set of reins and holding it’s mane.
You can see the lattice walls in this photo of the room’s description.
Stairs. They go upstairs, but also down if you happen to be up. I was down, so I went up. My net worth did not rise with each step, but I felt better about the whole thing, like I was higher. Not high, but higher. Sort of.
The woman depicted in the very large stained glass window going up the stairs is one of his daughters, Florence. Just after having her second child, she died of pneumonia at the young age of 24. In fact, seven of Lambert’s children preceded him in death- most at a very young age.
Once upstairs, we are presented with these long halls that allowed for viewing of even more fine art hanging on the walls. Beyond that, there are more rooms that were mostly the private bedrooms of the Lambert family. Today they have been decorated in period styles to further display artifacts, antiques, art, and history.
The morning sun rises on the face of the castle. The afternoon sun, seen here, bakes the northwest side of the castle, which is where the front entrance was located, along with this upstairs bedroom. Notice the parquet flooring,
These are photographs that are hanging in the industrial revolution gallery. Paterson, New Jersey was the first city designed for the industrial revolution in the United States. In other words, there is a large waterfall in the middle of the town- the largest waterfall east of Niagara Falls, and the mills and iron works were built around that waterfall with the residences built outside of that circle. Without the industrial revolution, Paterson simply would not have had any reason to exist beyond a basic farming community.
Congress Street was renamed Market Street at some point. Things there are busier now. I did not go down to take a picture yet, but this Google Earth screenshot will have to suffice for now:
Here is a drawing of the waterfalls that powered the community. This drawing goes back to the 1700s, at least. I guess they couldn’t help but to pencil in an Indian with a rifle. Anyway, here is a shot of those same falls, presently:
I took this picture of the falls in February 2014 during the bitter cold winter. Although the walls are lined with ice, the water still pushed through with immense power and intensity. This was taken at dawn and unlike the Cornu Clock above, the print is for sale.
Looking down into the Grand Atrium and the Music Room, with it’s arched entryway and windows, is quite pleasing.
This room has been retrofitted with wallpaper at some recent point, but they still tried to keep with the period styles. This was a bedroom on the second floor, originally. I included it just for the purpose of showing one of the faux-fireplaces and the beauty of curved walls:
And this photo above is looking out from the bedroom window down towards the front gate, where a gatehouse once stood. Also a fun fact: I am looking in approximately the correct direction to my house. Can you see it? It is about four miles away. An eagle could see it…
Out in the hallway, I looked down at my feet to make sure they were still there. One cannot be too careful. Also, I noticed the floor was not long strips of oak hardwood. It is made entirely up of about two inch square blocks, each with their grain perpendicular to thy neighbor. Wow that is a lot of work!
Up on the third floor now, I just wanted to get a picture of these great windows. The house has thick walls all throughout, with allows for these great encasement panels. Additionally, Lambert’s mills were mostly located a little beyond the treeline, but before the tall apartment tower you see in the distance.
Ok, so this is it. Lambert’s Castle: yet another piece of amazing history just a couple minutes from the house. This photo project, as I have said before, is really allowing me to see my community in a fantastic way that I certainly would not have otherwise bothered with. It is a little time consuming, but I strongly encourage all of you to give it a try. It is amazing how much there is to learn about our own backyards, even if it is for no other purpose than to simply know it.
Cheers, and thanks for reading.
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