DUMBO

The Watchtower sign is gone from the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ old headquarters in Brooklyn Heights

Iconic sign's letters are headed for storage

December 7, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Watchtower sign has been removed from the Jehovah's Witnesses' former headquarters, which is the yellow building at left. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

It’s the end of an era.

The red-lettered Watchtower sign, an icon of the Brooklyn waterfront for many decades, is gone.

It stood atop the former Brooklyn Heights headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have moved to upstate Warwick, N.Y.

The old Watchtower headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights is located across the street from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The sign — which also tells the time and temperature — could be seen from the park and from Brooklyn Bridge and many spots in Lower Manhattan.

The sign’s 15-foot-tall letters were removed from the top of the building on Wednesday.

On Thursday, there was nothing left but the sign’s lattice framework, which will serve as the support for a replacement sign — and small red electric lights that continued to flash forth the time and temperature.

“The letters will be going into storage,” a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses told the Brooklyn Eagle via email. “Presently we don’t have any plans to repurpose them.”

The letters will be stored in one of the religious organization’s upstate New York facilities.

The New York Post, which first reported the story of the sign’s removal, had said the letters would be “reinstalled at the society’s new headquarters.”

The old Watchtower headquarters now belongs to Columbia Heights Associates, which is a joint venture of the Kushner Cos., CIM Group and LIVWRK.
Jared Kushner headed the Kushner Cos. until he stepped aside to become a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.

The joint venture purchased the Watchtower headquarters complex for $340 million last year, city Finance Department records show.

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What will the new sign say?

Columbia Heights Associates is converting the property into a Class-A office complex called Panorama that will have stores and public space for arts and culture.

“The ‘Watchtower’  sign, as well as the ‘Squibb’ signage that was there earlier, has been prominently displayed on the building for more than 45 years,” Asher Abehsera of Columbia Heights Associates told the Eagle through a spokesman.

“As the property undergoes its transformation into a world-class office campus, this presents an opportunity to bring a new beacon to the Brooklyn skyline,” Abehsera said.

He didn’t say what name will replace the Watchtower’s atop 25-30 Columbia Heights.

The Watchtower sign’s removal had been anticipated since June, when the city Buildings Department approved a plan to take down the big red letters.

The sign bore Squibb’s name until the pharmaceutical giant sold 25-30 Columbia Heights to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1969.

The religious organization placed the red Watchtower letters on top of the building on Sept. 7, 1970.

“Tens of thousands of people walk, bike or drive across the Brooklyn Bridge every day, and the ‘Watchtower’ along with the time and temperature were often the first things to catch their eye as they crossed the East River into Brooklyn,” David Semonian, a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, said in a statement.

“The ‘Watchtower’ letters are a piece of our history that became a part of Brooklyn’s for almost 50 years. It’s only fitting that it is one of the last hallmarks of our Brooklyn history to go.”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have spent the past several years selling off their once-vast Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO real estate portfolio in conjunction with the relocation of their headquarters to Warwick.

Kushner Cos. and various investment partners have paid around $1 billion to purchase Brooklyn property from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.    

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