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.