The Bossert Hotel in Brooklyn, is one of the properties of the Jehovah's Witnesses in the area. Guests at the hotel do not pay bills. Accommodation is exclusively for members of the sect recommended by their local congregation as deserving of a treat.
The New York Times reports that in a city of $400-a-night hotel rooms, Jehovah's Witnesses and their families who have done their share of door to door preaching or have completed international missionary work may submit an application at their local congregation for up to three nights free accommodation and meals in the 224-room hotel that was once the "Waldorf-Astoria of Brooklyn."
Hotel Bossert was built in 1909 by Louis Bossert at 98 Montague Street, as an apartment hotel with an Italian Renaissance Revival-style exterior. The hotel was famous in the 1920s for its Marine Roof, a two-level restaurant on the roof of the building with a commanding view of Lower Manhattan skyline. The hotel gained press attention in 1945 when Charles Armijo Woodruff, 11th Governor of American Samoa, committed suicide by hanging himself in one of the rooms.
Brooklyn Dodgers players lived in Hotel Bossert in the 1950s, and after the team defeated the New York Yankees in the 1955 World Series, it was the venue of celebration of victory by Dodgers fans who gathered in the lobby and treated manager Walter Alston to a "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," congratulation of success.
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York bought the hotel in 1988 and did extensive renovation of the building that was in a state of disrepair. The Marine Roof that had collapsed was rebuilt, the lobby also had to be extensively renovated. Now, according to The New York Times, the lobby has five glittering chandeliers and three-story marble-like columns that Jehovah's Witnesses guests such as Lori Jacobson, 47, and her family of two boys, stand to admire.
Hotel Bossert, Montague Street entrance
The future of the hotel is now uncertain because the Jehovah's Witnesses organization is set to move its headquarters away from Brooklyn to Warwick, in Orange County, about 50 miles north of New York City. Recently, the sect bought a 253-acre plot in Warwick and operations of the group are being relocated. The New York Times reports the Jehovah's Witnesses recently moved printing operations to Walkill, N.Y., and educational center to Patterson, N.Y..
The Jehovah's Witnesses organization is already selling its properties in Brooklyn Heights as its prepares for full relocation of its headquarters. It announced plans to sell Hotel Bossert in January 2008, through a private-bidding process. Realtors estimate the building is worth $100 million.
Hotel Bossert from Hicks Street
New York realtors have generally praised the Jehovah's Witnesses for the high standards in maintenance of the property. Timothy King, senior partner at Massey Knakal Realty Services Brooklyn, describes the hotel as,
"One of the most unique and most well-maintained trophy assets in Brooklyn...The Watchtower organization is well known for impeccable maintenance standards and the Bossert reflects this level of care. It will be a challenge for a new owner to run the building with the same level of care and attention to detail."
Judi Stanton, president of the Brooklyn Heights Association, remarked that, “The Witnesses have done an exquisite job in maintaining the building."