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5th Annual Holiday Open House - 2010

About 40 people joined the Holiday Open House sponsored by the Hawthorne Historical Society last night at the Louis Bay 2nd Library. The event featured homemade hors d’oeuvres and desserts, and a presentation by noted historian Phil Jaeger on the “Castles of New Jersey,” including Lambert Castle in Paterson.

As Jaeger explained to the audience, castles differ from palaces in large part by virtue of their defenses. The major architectural features of castles are that they are made of stone, and often contain high walls, porte cocheres, portcullises, towers and turrets, battlements and arrow slits. They alse typically have stained glass windows, usually in their chapels.

Lambert Castle

The Lambert Castle in Paterson (above), built by silk tycoon Catholina Lambert and his wife Isabella, the castle offers dramatic views to Paterson and NYC, and has a history as an art showplace. It is now home to the Passaic County Historical Society.

Other castles in Jaeger’s presentation included:

- Kip’s Castle in Verona/Montclair, a counterpart to Lambert Castle built soon after by Frederick Kip. It was recently saved from development when it was bought by Essex County, and is now Kip’s Castle Park.

- Stevens Castle in Hoboken, which doesn’t really count because it was made of wood, not stone.

- Iviswold in Rutherford, built in 1887 as a family home, which later became the Union Club during the Depression, and was eventually acquired by first Fairleigh Dickinson University, and now Felician College.

- Becker’s Castle in “Union Hill” (now known as North Bergen), built in 1852 by Lewis Becker with imported stone from his native England. In 1907, it became the New York New Jersey Crematory, which still stands on Kennedy Boulevard, despite having the exterior front and sides modernized in the 1970s, at least some of the interior is preserved.

- Gingerbread Castle in Hamburg NJ, built in 1930 as a children’s castle designed by Joseph Urban, a noted set designer.

- Pax Amicus in Budd Lake – once a Jewish Synagogue, now a live theater space.

- Castle Edward on Lake Hopatcong – once a popular resort destination, with 80 rooms, 3 stories, bowling, billiards, boathouse, and gazebo, it burned down in the 1930s, though its archways still stand.

- Castle Elsinore in Plainfield/Watchung, built in 1900, this huge castle had 32 rooms (but just 1 bathroom). It also was destroyed by fire.

- Lynx Hall (Lakewood 1900) – demolished for development.

- Palace of Depression (orig, the “Fantastic Castle”) Vineland 1932 “The Strangest House in the World” – created as a tourist attraction with old logs, carparts, etc – only an architectural site remains – being rebuilt

The presentation included some non-traditional castles enjoyed in New Jersey as well, including White Castle (the hamburger joint) and Sand Castles like those created in Belmar’s annual competition on the beach.

The Hawthorne Historical Society meets the second Monday of every month at 7p at the Louis Bay 2nd library and community center. All are welcome. For further information contact Jackie Walsh at 201-694-8664.