Details about the formal training of builkder/architect Charles B. Lambert and his partner John A. Bailey and are unknown, but records indicate they were primarily contractors by trade. Lambert was born in Sweden on April 6, 1871. At the age of 14 he left Sweden and spent three years as a cabin boy and sailor. Reportedly at age 17, he returned to his native county and then spent the next two years studying architecture. While any specific schooling is unknown, reportedly upon graduation he headed for the United States, first arriving in New York in 1890. After working for a short time in New York, Lambert moved to Chicago and then to St Paul, Minn. While there he was reportedly he engaged in architectural work, however what firms he may have worked for, or any projects he may have completed, have not been discovered to date. After a year and a half in Alaska, Lambert settled in Walla Walla in 1898 where he started his own business, initially listing himself as a carpenter/contractor in the local directories. Early known projects are limited to a 1906 report in the local newspaper which stated that he and his crew of carpenters had just returned from Klicker Springs after a week of camping. By 1910 Lambert added “architect” as his profession in city directories. The previous year he formed a partnership with John A. Bailey. Lambert was active in Masonic circles, having taken all the degrees of the York and Scottish Rites, and was commander of the Knights of Templar. He was also a member of the Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks.
His business partner John A. Bailey was born January 10, 1862 in Nova Scotia region of Canada. Reportedly he moved to Boston in 1883 where he stayed a brief time before moving to California in 1887. He then moved to Walla Walla in 1898 and initially worked at the Whitehouse - Crumming Company mill. Shortly thereafter Bailey began working as a contractor. His only know project during this time period if the Walla Walla City Hall & Fire Station (1907-08).
The Bailey & Lambert partnership was perhaps spurred by the design and construction of the Bachtold Building (1910). Business was good for the young firm and according to insurance records, by 1911 they employed 10 people. Known projects include the Reynolds Block (1909); a remodel of White House Clothing Store (1910); the Paxton House at 720 S Palouse (1911); the Pacific Power and Light Substation (circa. 1911) on 6th and Rose; and the First Presbyterian Church (c.1914).
For reasons unknown, the partnership lasted until around 1915. Bailey then started his owner lumber company; the John A. Bailey Lumber & Fuel Company. He remained in Walla Walla until his death in 1940. Lambert continued to market himself, both as a contractor and architect for several additional years. Reportedly he helped design and build the addition to the Denny Building (c. 1920); and he designed the Liberty Theater in Dayton (1921). Lambert died in Walla Walla on January 3, 1928. While his know projects are limited, the author of Lyman’s History of Old Walla Walla County - Volume II, published in 1918, noted that Lambert’s “skill and ability are manifest in many of the most substantial structures found in this city.”
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - Jan 1919