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Lambert Castle

The trail connecting Lambert tower to Lambert Castle will be closed temporarily until further notice due to an unsafe condition of the safety railing.

About the Castle

Constructed in 1892 as the home and showplace of silk manufacturer Catholina Lambert, the 53-acre estate originally included the mansion, gatehouse, carriage-green house complex, and formal Italianate gardens. Four years later, Lambert added an art gallery and observation tower. The property is now owned by the County of Passaic and is an integral part of Garret Mountain Reservation.

The Story of Catholina Lambert is the stuff of which legends are made. Lambert was born to working class parents in England in 1834. At the age of 17, the future silk magnate and his younger brother immigrated to America. Lambert settled in the Boston area and was hired as a bookkeeper for the silk firm of Tilt and Dexter. Tilt withdrew from the firm, and Dexter loaned Lambert the necessary funds to buy into the partnership. The firm, now known as Dexter-Lambert, relocated its base of operations to Paterson. In 1867 Paterson was emerging as a world-class silk manufacturing center.

Lambert’s business thrived from 1875 to 1890. To accompany his rise in fortune, Lambert decided to build a new home befitting his station as one of Paterson’s leading industrialists. “Belle Vista” was constructed of sandstone, much of it quarried from Garret Mountain. Construction took a year to complete and is estimated to have cost between $200,000 - $500,000. The interior of the Castle was organized around a three-story open atrium called the court. It was here that Lambert displayed many of his prized European and American paintings. His collection included works by Rembrandt, Renoir, Courbet, Monet, and Balkelock. The interior of the Castle reflected the eclectic styles of the Gilded Age.

In 1914, financial problems forced Lambert to mortgage his estate and art collection. Several hundred items were auctioned at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Lambert died in 1923, a few weeks shy of his 89th birthday. His son and heir, Walter, inherited the Castle and sold the furnishings and later the Castle itself for $125,000 to the City of Paterson.

The Castle, was purchased by the Passaic County Park Commission in 1928. It was renovated for park system use and the three-story atrium was closed. In 1934, the Passaic County Historical Society established its museum and library in the Castle. The building is listed on the state and national registers of historic places. Lambert Castle was extensively restored and rehabilitated over a five-year period by the Board of Chosen Freeholders, with the assistance of federal and state grants. The Castle was rededicated in September of 2000. It is open for visitation. For information on Lambert’s Castle, and the programs of the Historical Society, call 973-247-0085.