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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  • bornhere

    Correction: “I don’t think there WAS quite as much demonstrated self-absorption, self-importance, and obliviousness as there is now.” (But you knew that, right?)

  • someone

    Forgive my ignorance, but do the whitnesses not pay taxes out of their paychecks? They must be getting something… I would have thought that the “not paying taxes” part would be just true for the church itself.

  • Elmer Fudd

    Do the JW’s get paid? I thought they were working their way to Salvation by working for free.

  • Western Brooklyn


    I have to agree with you about, “those Cadman Plaza mega monstrosities.”

    Who the hell approved for those hideous, gigantic, concrete eyesores to loom over the Brooklyn Heights forever???


    I believe Witnesses in the Heights are paid about $100 stipend a month, which would put them below the limit of needing to file & pay income taxes.

  • someone

    $100/month? And from that they have pay gas for the door-to-door missionary trips? What’s their retirment plan? Other members taking care of them? How do they go on vacation to the Dominican Republic (I have seen pictures of that through some dark channels)?

  • PromGal

    I really do agree. I think there has been a coarsening of the culture at all levels of society.
    The self absorption, self indulgence, and lack of respect for others has become so widespread, The neighborhood has become unrecognizable.
    I’m told young couples with small children buy $2 million dollar coops, and leave their double-wide strollers, dirty wet boots, shoes & umbrellas in shared hallways. This sense if entitlement, by people who have no social graces, no manners is invasive.
    As a group, they also do not contribute or participate in neighborhood religious institutions, cultural institutions, or charities.
    They allow their ill-bred out if control children run rampant in shops and restaurants.
    My parents called them white trash with money.

  • dera

    The Watchtower used to rail against the Pope and all the money the Catholics have.

    Now they are just like them.