JUNE 1, 2016
NEW YORK—On May 24, 2016, Jehovah’s Witnesses officially listed The Towers, a 16-story residential property located at 21 Clark Street in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. The 313,768-square-foot (29,150 sq m) former hotel, known for its crown of four colonnaded, Venetian towers, has held a stately presence in the Brooklyn skyline for nine decades.
The Towers was originally the Leverich Towers Hotel and had its grand opening in 1928. The renowned architects Starrett & Van Vleck, responsible for the New York City flagship stores of Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, designed the hotel. A few years later, under new ownership, it was rebranded as the Towers Hotel. Possessing Romanesque ornamentation, a chandeliered ballroom, and a rooftop terrace with unobstructed views of Lower Manhattan, New York Harbor, and the Brooklyn Bridge, it was advertised as “The Aristocrat of Brooklyn Hotels.”
Despite its lofty beginnings, the hotel had fallen into a state of disrepair by the 1970s. The Witnesses purchased the building on January 14, 1975. By 1978, they had remodeled the property to serve as a residence and dining room for over 1,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses working at their world headquarters. Richard Devine, a spokesman for the Witnesses, explains: “Our printing operation was rapidly expanding. The Towers offered the space we vitally needed to accommodate our increasing personnel.”
Beginning in 1995, the Witnesses initiated a more extensive renovation, one that was to revitalize some of the former hotel’s grandeur. Mr. Devine describes the construction work: “In the 1990s, we completely rebuilt the interior of the building and replaced the plumbing and electrical systems. But we also installed the beautiful grand staircase that descends from what is now the main lobby to the dining room level.”
David A. Semonian, a spokesman at the Witnesses’ world headquarters, comments: “When you walk the streets of Brooklyn Heights and come alongside The Towers, the elegance of the building commands your attention. Yet beyond the beauty that we have worked hard to tastefully preserve, The Towers has been a comfortable home for members of our headquarters staff for decades.”
David A. Semonian, Office of Public Information, 1-718-560-5000