When you think of the City of Paterson, New Jersey, do you think of a castle or a silk baron? Probably not. Well, behold Lambert Castle! I visited a few years ago and it is quite a spectacle. This beautiful Medieval Revival architecture, built in 1862, was once the home of Catholina Lambert, the owner of a silk mill located in Paterson, as well as other mills and business.
The castle was designed to look like a castle of Great Britain and was made of mostly granite and sandstone. When Lambert passed away in 1923, his family sold the building and it changed hands a few times. For some time, it housed some of the administrative offices of Passaic County with just one room designated for historical museum purposes. Around 1936, the entire first floor of the building was turned into a museum. By the 1990s, the entire building was renovated and turned into a complete museum and library. Lambert Castle was first named Belle Vista and it is located on Garrett Mountain in Paterson. It became a part of the National Register of Historic Place in 1976.
The museum consists of several rooms which include personal possessions that once belonged to Catholina Lambert. There are other historical items as well. If you can like, you can get a guided tour of the castle where someone will walk you through the rooms and explain not only the history of the castle itself, but they will also provide some history on Paterson’s industrial history and silk industry. You can also watch a video about the history of the castle while you are there.
The museum also has an art gallery that includes various folk art and curiosities, as well as works by various local artists. The castle is open to the public to the public for about ten months out of the year.
So, who was Catholina Lambert? He was both in Yorkshire, England in 1834. As a child, he was an apprentice at a mill for about seven years. He saved the money that he earned and left England, moving to America in 1851. He continued to work in the mill industry and eventually became a partner in a silk company. He brought out his partner and became the sole owner of his own mill. It was in the 1860’s that the Paterson factory was built and it became a contractor for government work during the Civil War. This factory was called Dexter Mill.
Catholina Lambert married in 1857 and had eight children, but sadly seven of those children died early. Despite his fortune and success, life was sad at home, yet his business thrived. In addition to the Paterson mill, he also purchased a mill in Hawley, Pennsylvania and also began to do business internationally with offices in Florence and Milan, Italy.
When Catholina Lambert’s first wife passed way, he married her sister, who was a widow. He outlived her as well and lived at the castle until his death in 1923.