Opening of Lambert Castle


Tuesday, January 31, 1893

(Taken from “Belle Vista,” by E.M. GRAF,

presented to

The Passaic County Historical Society
on its 10th Anniversary Meeting
at Lambert Castle, May 16, 1936).

Month after month, we watched them cut huge blocks of sandstone from the local quarry to build the new home of Catholina Lambert on the side of Garret Mountain. Soon it had taken on the form of an old Castle, and seeing the work nearly completed, we were more interested than ever being among the four hundred invited guests of Mr. Lambert on that first reception in his new home.

Under the radiance of the pale moon light, and the numerous lamps with which the grounds and buildings were lighted, the scene was extremely romantic and picturesque, as the place was approached from the foot of the hill and the carriages wound round the serpentine driveway to the castellated building. The Castle, for such it ought to be called, as the word residence seems insignificant when used in connection with such a building, presented a beautiful spectacle with its brilliant illuminations and could be seen for miles resembling a sparkling gem set into the rugged mountain stone tower tops and the myriad’s of lamps in the building itself formed a dazzling picture. The reception was in the nature of a housewarming, and to afford Mr. and Mrs. Lambert’s hosts of friends and acquaintances a view of the many gems and works of art that Mr. Lambert had been collecting diligently during his lifetime from all parts of the world. Pictures, bric-a-brac, old carvings, and antiques, in every part of the castle and recalled to mind the graphic pictures painted in the “Arabian Nights.” These were distributed with the true skill of an art lover and connoisseur. It was a very happy night for Mr. Lambert who like to have his friends enjoy the beauties of his paintings.

The reception itself was a brilliant one, the gathering being made up of the wealth and fashion of Paterson. A special train was run over the Lackawanna Road from Jersey City to bring about one hundred guests and friends of Mr. and Mrs. Lambert from New York. Carriages were in waiting at the Barclay Street depot to convey them to the castle.

Among those from out of town were:

Mr. and Mrs. Wallace A. ANDREWS, Mr. and Mrs. FLEMING, Mr. and Mrs. George LEGG, Mr. and Mrs. William DEGNAR, Mr. and Mrs. THORPE of Brooklyn, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas OAKLEY, Mr. and Mrs. J. Olcott RHINES, Mr. and Mrs. ST. JOHN, Mr. and Mrs. George HASBROUCK, Mr. and Mrs. W.D. ELLIS, Mr. and Mrs. W.T. EVANS, Mr. and Mrs. John F. DEGNAR, Mr. and Mrs. Leon HESS and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. B. RICHARDSON, Mr. and Mrs. WALTERS of New York, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold FELDSTEIN, Mr. and Mrs. J.S. VAN NOTTE, Mr. and Mrs. Henry B. WILSON, Mr. and Mrs. E.C. ANDERSON, Mr. J. DETLOFF, Messrs. Charles and Joseph Durand RUEL, Mr. George HEARN, Judge and Mrs. BROOKSTAVER, Mrs. Albert J. ADAMS, Mr. Charles DANFORTH of Orange, Dr. HOPWOOD formerly pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church and a warm personal friend of Mr. Lambert. There were also many guests from Boonton and Dover.

Entering the Castle, to the right, was the reception room where Mr. and Mrs. Lambert were assisted in receiving the guests by their son Walter S. Lambert and his wife and their daughter, Mrs. William F. DORFLINGER of Honesdale, Pa. Next to the reception room was the Grand Staircase leading to the living apartments and the second gallery. The main hall continued on through to the Grand Art Hall, Breakfast Room, and Conservatory, making a promenade 150 feet in length, terminating in the summer house at the extreme northeast end.

Facing the art hall to the east, was the music room where Prof. Dayton VREELAND and his string orchestra were stationed behind an embankment of exotic plants and ferns and played delightful promenade music. In the upper gallery of the Art Room was stationed a mandolin orchestra from New York, the dreamy and delightful music rendered embracing the effect of the surroundings, and produced a most pleasing effect on the guests.

Next to the Music Room was the Drawing Room, occupying the first floor of the tower. On the second floor were the living rooms, designed to be used en suite or single. On this floor over the Music Room was the Gem Room and over the Drawing Room, the Guests Chamber, while to the north of the art gallery were the Pink and Blue Rooms. The servants quarters were in a separate part of the house, removed from the main building facing the mountains.

Four hundred guests had been invited and with but few exceptions, all responded. Every room in the Castle was thrown open, and there were inviting easy chairs to be found at all points from which to enjoy the feast of art that was spread out before the guests.

Mr. Lambert had been collecting works of art for many years but until he built his new home he had no place in which to properly display his beautiful collection. This was one of the main reasons that prompted him to build for himself such a large mansion. A great source of gratification to Mr. Lambert was the fact that he conceived the plan of the building and had it erected entirely to his own ideas and only made on slight change from what he proposed at the outset. Mr. John C. RYLE aided Mr. Lambert in his work and on this evening saw the culmination and realization of Mr. Lambert’s dreams of having a splendid home and art gallery.

The wood work on all the rooms is of the finest oak. From the centre of the ceiling in the dining room hangs a French bronze chandelier, beautiful in design. The room was supplied with furniture of Italian design of the sixteenth century and some of the pieces were the finest hand carved work in this country. A “King Lung Empire” vase of 1732 stood near the door and a Hawthorne vase, said to have been the third finest in this country, was conspicuous.

On either side of the entrance are Italian columns carved and decorated in Gold and Black, representing the sixteenth century. Overhead was a piece of Russian carving brought from Pisa by Mr. Lambert. The floor of the main Art Hall is laid in square blocks of marble and partly covered with rugs of the finest pattern and texture. The floor of the Music Room is similar to that of the Art Hall. Monticelli’s famous painting, “The Vestal Virgins,” hung over the mantel in the Music Room. The carving on the mantel of Carrara marble is very beautiful and appropriate. It consists of a host of cherubs representing music, song, and dance.

The Drawing Room on the first floor of the tower, is similar to that of Windsor Castle. It was furnished in Louis XV style. The ceiling was covered with a painting in oil by L. Leistner, an Austrian decorator. The mantel is of Italian tulip wood, elaborately carved and decorated in Gold and Black. On one side was a piece of empire furniture from the Prince Demidoff Collection, upon which were rare vases, two Chinese vases formerly in the possession of Emperors, such as were exchanged by the rulers of Empires as presents to each other.

The Breakfast Room was in the northwest wind of the main building. The entire room was furnished in turquoise and gold. The walls were ornamented with beautiful paintings by Monet and Renoir. The bower supported by four columns, two in front being spiral and copied from those in front of St. Peter’s church in Rome. The others are Italian renaissance style and came from Pisa. In the rear was an immense plate glass mirror, covering the whole side of the room and giving the appearance of several rooms. The prettiest floral effect was secured in the Breakfast Room, where a grill work in front of the mirror was festooned with genuine plumosa vine, studded with roses. The gallery fronts in the Art Hall were also festooned with the same and presented a pretty picture.

The Art Gallery extended from the ground floor to the dome of the castle. In the gallery on the third floor were paintings of the Kremlin Palace at Moscow by Verestchagin. Another painting by the same artist representing the interior of a Mosque with the priests at worship was found hanging at the top of the main staircase underneath the bridge of the third gallery.

The reception lasted throughout the evening, and the four hundred people partook of the sumptuous dinner served by Maressi of New York. The floral and plant decorations were by Mr. TOWELL who brought out all the possibilities of plants and flowers in interior adornment.

Thirty-five coaches were required throughout the evening to convey the guests to and from the reception and these were furnished by Charles B. HINDLE.

Among the Patersonians present were:

Mr. and Mrs. William STRANGE, Mr. and Mrs. Peter RYLE, Mr. and Mrs. John HOPPER, Mr. and Mrs. Charles N. STERRET, Mr. and Mrs. Francis K. MCCULLY, Mr. and Mrs. John H. HINDLE, Mr. and Mrs. David T. GILMOR, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob WEIDMAN, Mr. and Mrs. John C. RYLE, Mr. and Mrs. John C. COOKE, Mr. and Mrs. Harwood B. PARKE, Mr. and Mrs. George S. MCCARTER, Mrs. and Mrs. H.B. CROSBY, Mr. and Mrs. William HOGENCAMP, Mr. and Mrs. James A. MORRISSE, Mr. and Mrs. Charles HOMER, Dr. and Mrs. T.Y. KINNE, Lieut. TOILOF, Mr. W.G. FENNER, Mr. Robert H. STERRETT, Mr. Eugene STEVENSON, Mr. F.C. VAN DYK, Mr. John J. BROWN, Col. Charles AGNEW, Mrs. Robert GILLMOR and daughter, Prosecutor William B. GOURLY, County Clerk A.D. WINFIELD, Mr. David HENRY, Miss Sarah HENRY, Hon. John W. GRIGGS, Mrs. I.W. ENGLAND.

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