Kingdom Come: NYT on Bossert Hotel in Brooklyn Heights

The New York Times reports on the Bossert Hotel, currently owned by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The piece discusses how members of the religion, known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, become eligible for a stay in Brooklyn’s “Waldorf”. It also covers the fact that the Watchtower plans to move out of Brooklyn Heights over the next few years and how the sale of the Bossert plays into that.

The Brooklyn Heights Association’s executive director Judy Stanton cautions that Watchtower property sales may cause a major issue in the area. “Right now, we don’t have the schools capacity to support an influx of residents with children,” she says.

But most interestingly is this passage about some “regular” folk who still live there:

NYT: The group took over the building in a state of disrepair in 1983, renovated it in 1988, and in summer 2010, turned it into a 224-room hotel. Five residents who lived there before 1983 remain in their apartments, Mr. Devine said.

“We’re just extras,” said one of them, Monica Grier, 83, laughing.

Ms. Grier, originally from England, moved into the two-bedroom apartment on the 11th floor with her husband, George, in 1956. She is grateful for the infusion of polite activity, recalling the female screams she heard when part of the building was a seedy single-room occupancy hotel. Until last summer, the hallways were mostly silent except during the Witnesses’ special events.

When her husband died in 1988, she decided to stay. She first paid $300 in rent; now she pays $800. She said staff members treated her well and had not tried to proselytize to her.

Daisy Diamontopulos, 80, who has lived on the 10th floor since 1965, said the same. “I am a Roman Catholic and that doesn’t bother them,” she said. “I put my Christmas decorations on the wall. They come to my home, they invite us to theirs.”

Both she and Ms. Grier hope they will be able to stay through whatever incarnation is next for the Bossert.

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  • Western Brooklyn


  • Danny Haszard

    Yup! The Watchtower is just as grandiose as the *other* churches that they decry as ‘Babylon the great”.

    Danny Haszard 3rd generation Jehovah’s Witnesses and former Watchtower

  • Common Woman

    Watchtower is same as Scientology.they did all the purchase,renovating and maintenance with free labor and donated money that is tax free.

    L Ron Hubbard was spot on,” If you want to make big money you got to start a religion”.

  • david

    I think you will find with these kinds of buildings that heritage issues dictate that it has to be restored as it used to be. In any case the brothers (Jehovah’s Witnesses) have acted wisely and with typical efficiency in using the talents Jesus left to them. See Math 25:15. Any organisation that expects to prosper, religious or otherwise has to have some buisness accruement. It is just plain common sense. At least give them credit for that.

  • bklyn20

    Interesting that the additional children who could move into these Bossert aprtments could overstress local school infrastructure and the hundreds of condos planned for BBP will not! T

    The newly enlarged PS 8 is already full to the brim — better kids in extant historic buildings than in new glassy condos in the park.

  • Wayne

    3rd generation is still spewing gall. It is almost laughable. I guess Mr. Coffee had to have a successor.

  • AEB

    The article isn’t a about the “validity” of the JW religion–it’s about real estate and the possibility of a lot of it being released into the marketplace.

    The article DOES make the point that the JW have done an exemplary job of property upkeep, which has been good for the nabe,and will encourage more rapid building sales.

    So whatever you think of the JWs as a religion–that’s irrelevant to the topic the article proposes.

  • Jorale-man

    Interesting that it’s used mainly as a hotel, and that it’s essentially free. I had just assumed it was mostly permanent housing for the Witnesses.

    I wonder if it has many amenities like room service, wireless Internet or a gym. Do they workout even? I must plead ignorance on that one.

  • Gerry

    I suspect that long term residents Daisy D. and Monica G. have rent protections are rent stabilized under State of New York DCHR and that is why they are still there.

    A rent stabilized apartment in Brooklyn Heights is more valuable than a co/op or condo the law will keep these tenants safe and I wish these women has relatives to gain “sucession rights”.

    i love hearing about aparments like these.

  • Curious

    With the five residence who lived there prior to the wts purchase- assuming all non-witnesses who pay rent. Is this rent taxable or can so called Charities rent out apartments without paying tax on the income as well? Rent isn’t a donation but an income and since they started offering their publication on donation basis because of the Jimmy Swaggart court case I’m just wondering if the Watchtower is exempt on the income from the property?

  • CHAS

    In reply to Curious, I suspect that costs of utilities and upkeep might be a wash in relationship to these token rents. Anyway it appears J.W’S keep these people in there out of Christian love for neighbors. Good question tho.

  • blanchwood

    Determining your eligibility for refinancing is similar to the approval process that you went through with your first mortgage, if you want the easy solution then the answer is “Official Refinance”

  • The Ronbot

    The Godless cult of Sin and Greed is all that we Ex-Scientologists claim it is.
    1. It kills, beats up, harms, harasses, stalks, and in always possible victimizes any ex-member and anyone else that opposes their evil agenda.
    2. It forces its slave members to get abortions. It kills innocent babies so the mother can be more productive as a slave.
    3. It uses its slaves to repair the new bought buildings for pennies an hour.
    4. Its non-volunteer workers get the lowest wages (.10 to .40 cents an hour) in the civilized world and work the longest (70-80) hours.
    5. It exposes all your own sins and secrets in your confessional/s to bring you harm, when you expose their evil Godless agenda.
    6. It has its own prison camp (RPF) with Ronbot guards with automatic assault weapons, where you are sent if you fail to be very productive or angry or upset with your slavery. Slaves are not allowed to escape and will be shot if they try. 95% of the slaves that finally are allowed to leave soon leave the cult. The other 5% are sent to “fair game” the rest.
    7. It has broken up hundreds of thousands of families by their Godless policies of Disconnection and Fair Game.
    8. The Godless cult sends their slaves to your neighbors, job, and friends to ask questions in such a way, that makes them think you are a rapist, criminal, sociopath, child molester, Gay or lesbian or a deviant, without any proof or verified criminal complaint. They use this Godless tactic to ruin you or cause you to commit suicide.
    There are hundreds of other reasons to run from this Godless cult. But I think you get an idea of its evil.
    Please help us Independent Scientologists to bring back ethics, humanity, compassion, honesty and integrity back into the group. Help us stop them!!!

  • Henry

    Is it a cult, I do not know. But are some of their practices any more strange than–

    1) the group that concludes it worship by drinking the blood and eating the body of their so called messiah.

    2) the group that mutilates the genitals of newborn males.

  • Western Brooklyn


    Your above comment is spot-on!

    Also, it seemed like people were blaming the possibility of children moving into the Bossart for potentially undermining our school system!? What the hell kind of reasoning is that?

  • http://j lori

    The Witnesses were never in the business of renting out rooms or apartments. When they bought buildings, they tried to get the current tenants out; if not,they let them stay at nominal rents. They never replaced tenants who moved. I know several tenants at the Bossert; I understand there are about 6 – 8 of them, all elderly. The 14 unit building they have for sale at 183 Columbia Hts was down to only one tenant and I haven’t seen her lately.

  • WillowtownCop

    I don’t care what they believe. I would rather have a thousand of them than one more “Steven” or “Vanessa” of 1 BBP fame or any of their horrible offspring. And if the Witnesses go, that’s exactly who will be moving into the building.

  • Jorale-man

    Well said, WillowtownCop. The Witnesses go and Steven will be somewhere moving in with his aged cognac and skyline views.

  • PromGal

     Those 1400 JoHos are all adults who do not vote, do not pay taxes, and contribute nothing to the community. They do no volunteer work, and unlike all the other religious institutions in the Heights, do not participate in or fund programs for Seniors, or participate in the Shelter Program for the homeless.

    They do not support local commerce like food stores, restaurants, dry cleaners, etc, as all their needs are taken care of by the JoHos. In essence, they are parasites, living off their tax paying neighbors, and contributing nothing. And yes, they do have a coordinated system 
    of parking, that scoops up most of the area’s parking spots.

  • Eddyenergizer

    Most of the Jo-Ho property is configured as single room dorm style residences. Hopefully, the lot will be sold to a school, senior home or something other than condos.

  • Spiritualbrother

    How much tax did the city lose on the Bossert while it was religious owned?

  • AEB

    WillowtownCop, I don’t take your anti-Yuppism too seriously, but what if I railed against the lower-middle class as often as you do the upper-middle? Would you not feel that…personal issues were at work?

  • diane75henry

    I remember as a young girl standing outside the Bossert to catch a glimpse of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers who had just beaten the Yankees in the World Series.

    I have also seen how the JW’s presence has altered the North Heights….transforming the architecture, displacing local business and most importantly not paying taxes.

    I am glad they are relocating and hope that the properties they vacate can be converted into buildings that will support the community of Brooklyn Heights in a positive and fair way. We are not Manhattan and don’t want to be.

  • Heights Mom

    I don’t understand why an upscale hotel chain does not buy that and make it into, you know, a hotel. There is NOWHERE for visiting relatives to stay in the Heights aside from a few B&Bs that are always booked or the Marriott which is really in Downtown Brooklyn.

  • Heightser

    The only good thing about the JW’s is that they are the first ones to shovel after is snows, and they keep their facilities immaculately clean. Good riddance.

  • Western Brooklyn

    @Heights Mom,

    I’m no hotelier, but your idea of turning the Bossert back into the obvious, a hotel, does sound very sensible! I’ve been told that ordinary rooms at the Marriott Downtown Brooklyn can go for $350+ a night!


    Indeed, the Watchtower has always seemed totally out of place in the heart of one of best residential neighborhoods in New York City!

    I think it’s best for everyone involved if they move to some sprawling compound Upstate, where they have plenty of room to expand without turning more of Brooklyn Heights into dormitories, offices, & factories for their own exclusive use! (Not sure how good it will be for Upstate though.)

  • bornhere

    Western, Heights Mom — I believe it was AEB and I who, months ago, suggested that an upscale hotel, with a magnificent bar/restaurant on the roof, would be a great idea for the Bossert. It would have the draw of NYC history — not only within its own skin, so to speak, but also in its environs. Imagine cocktails and dinner on the Bossert’s roof. Imagine visitors enjoying their proximity to the Promenade, Manhattan, great transportation, etc. It sounds like such a smart idea .(And it would be absent added stress on the limited schools options/parking/etc!)
    Oh — to have something like this in the Heights! Sure, the River Cafe is nice, but imagine being able to have drinks (except aged Cognac) and dining just a bit “down river” for a change!

  • Heightser

    We need a hotel developer. Anyone know a good one?

  • PromGal

    Why all the railing against “yuppies”. Why all the class warfare against your neighbors who pay taxes, support local commerce, are productive members if society, donate to local charities etc.
    Never a word against those living in taxpayer subsidized below market rate housing in those Cadman Plaza mega monstrosities?

  • bornhere

    PromGal — I don’t think there is that much disdain for “Yuppies,” especially since some of us were young(er), urban professionals when or shortly before the term was first invented; but here we are, some 30 years past the term’s creation, and like so much else, things have changed: there is a new “tone” to success that I don’t recall sensing/hearing/seeing decades ago. And the cliched “aged Cognac” is just a part of that tone. Thirty years ago, I don’t think there wasn’t quite as much demonstrated self-absorption, self-importance, and obliviousness as there is now. Is everyone guilty? Perhaps, to varying degrees; but when “aged Cognac” is the buzzword in a cartoon ad meant to attract “productive members of society,” it’s really kind of hard not to rail or laugh or something — if only a little bit.