Antiques Lost in Fire At Mansion

The Trentonian
8 February 1980

Antiques Lost in Fire At Mansion

Staff Writer

PRINCETON TWP. — A general-alarm blaze ripped through two-floors of the Lambert mansion late yesterday afternoon, destroying several hundred thousand dollars worth of antiques and valuable family heirlooms.

No Injuries were reported in the 4 p.m. fire that routed Grace Lambert — widow of the former president of the Lambert Pharmaceutical Co. — from her 100-acre Province Line Road home.

Besides the house and antiques that were ruined, friends of Mrs. Lambert said all of her documents — including insurance papers on the destroyed heirlooms — were lost in the blaze.

Fire officials believe the blaze started In the chimney.

When the first firemen arrived on the scene, heavy clouds of black smoke were billowing from the roof.

Within minutes, flames shot skyward from the center of the L-shaped house, and a general-alarm was sounded

As more than 100 firemen unraveled several miles of hose and doused the top of the mansion with water from a snorkel unit, the flames began to spread across the roof.

Several firemen, neighbors and employees of Mrs. Lambert ran inside the house while flames danced through the attic area and recovered about 10 percent of the antiques, police said.

“They were running in and out. carrying tables, clocks, vases, and Just about anything they could get their hands on until firemen thought It wasn’t safe inside anymore.” one police officer said.

Less than 10 minutes later, the roof of the mansion collapsed, dropping burning timbers over sections of the second floor. Flames soon blew out the windows.

Before firemen brought the blaze under control 90 minutes later, the entire attic area and second-floor of the mansion

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Mansion Hit By Big Blaze
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were gutted.

Chief William Shields of Princeton Engine Co. No. 1 said the first-floor of the mansion sustained heavy smoke and fire damage.

“The fire appeared to have been going pretty good before we arrived,” the fire chief said. “It apparently started up around the attic and was spreading the length of the home before it came through the celling ”

Shields said the only problem firemen had battling the blaze was that hoses had to be spread nearly half-a-mile to fire hydrants on Province Line Road.

“There was a hydrant on the grounds near the house but that alone couldn’t handle a fire of that size.” Sheilds said

Firemen also broke through the ice of a concrete swimming pool in the yard behind the stately mansion for additional water.

Laura Stabler, Mrs. Lambert’s secretary, said the widow was in her library preparing for visitors when one of her servants came running in after he spotted the fire.

“He was walking the dogs when he saw the smoke coming from the roof. They called the fire department and tried removing as much as they could.” Stabler said
She said several trophies that Gerard Lambert — the widow’s husband who died in 1967 — had received for entering the America’s Cup yacht races were also believed to have been lost in the fire.

According to a friend of Mrs Lambert, while neighbors and firemen were removing articles from the mansion, she asked them to try to save the things she had bought for her dogs.

“She really loves her dogs She just wanted them to get out what they could for her dogs.” the friend said.

Photo Captions:

Ruined Mansion: Princeton firemen watch the smoke rise yesterday from the Lambert mansion, which was gutted by a general alarm blaze. Valuable antiques and family heirlooms were destroyed in the mansion, owned by Grace Lambert, widow of former president of Lambert Pharmaceutical Co. No injuries were reported in the Province Line Road fire. See story, other photo on Page Three. Trentonian Photo By Bob Sherman Jr.

THE RUINED AND THE SAVED – As firemen (left) douse the smoldering Lambert mansion in Princeton Township with water, police (right) stand near some of the antiques and heirlooms that were rescued from yesterday’s blaze.

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