In an earlier post I described the Botto House in Haledon. N.J., home of an Italian immigrant family and gathering place for the striking workers during the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike. On the other side of Paterson and on the other side of the silk strike stands Lambert Castle, the home of Catholina Lambert, owner of the Dexter Silk Mill, one of the mills targeted by the strikers.
The English-born Lambert moved to Boston at the age of 17 where he began his career in the silk industry. He eventually assumed ownership of the firm Dexter, Lambert & Company. Lambert was a professional success, but his life was marked by tragedy as he outlived 7 of his 8 children and both of his wives.
In 1891 construction began on what was then called Belle Vista, named after his first wife Isabella. Lambert moved into the castle in 1892 and staged a 400-person grand opening in 1893. Among the prominent visitors to Belle Vista were President William McKinley and his vice president, Paterson native Garret Hobart.
In 1896, Lambert added an observation tower at the highest point on Garrett Mountain.
While I am sure Catholina Lambert never endured the hardships that were suffered by many of the striking silk workers during that long and largely unsuccessful strike, the events of 1913 did take their toll on Lambert and his firm. In 1914 he mortgaged his estate. In 1916 he sold his extensive art collection, including 368 paintings and 32 sculptures, to pay off his firm’s debts. A year later his son Walter liquidated Dexter, Lambert & Company.
Catholina Lambert continued to live in Lambert Castle until his death in 1923. Two years after his death, Walter sold it to the City of Paterson.