Former Jehovah’s Witness Buildings Gets Modern Makeover

For some lighter news during the coronavirus outbreak, read about the former fortresses that are becoming some of Brooklyn’s hottest properties

Photo by Marcos Vinícius Silva (CC BY 2.0) –

(BROOKLYN, NEW YORK)— The legendary and even ominous “Watchtower” building that has housed the world headquarters for Jehovah’s witnesses since the 1960s has recently been converted to a modern, airy commercial property with office, retail and hospitality space for rent. Now, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports, the complex will soon house eleven beautiful gardens as well.

Although the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been slowly selling off property for years, the sale of their iconic Watchtower building in Brooklyn Heights first made headlines in 2015, when the Witnesses put the complex on the market in a move upstate to Warwick, New York. The sale fetched a pretty penny in one of Brooklyn’s hottest neighborhoods: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported rumors that developers (Jared Kushner, of Trump-related infamy) had been willing to pay up to $400 million for the staggering 735,000 property featuring stunning 360 views, including prime views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Alluding to its premier vistas, the developers have renamed the complex The Panorama.

In Summer 2019, The Brooklyn Eagle reported a sneak peek into the extensive renovations that developers had undertaken in the past four years. Before the Witnesses purchased it in 1969, it was a former pharmaceutical factory. In the ensuing decades, it’s been almost completely closed to outsiders. Photos from The Brooklyn Eagle highlight just how successful that transformation has ben, with stuffy, secretive interiors transformed into airy, light-filled spaces. A whole floor with stunning 20-foot ceilings that had been a windowless “black box” for a recording studio was outfitted with full-wall windows. The formerly secretive complex now features a selfie-station on the roof.

Gothamist also reported last Spring that the complex had also sheltered some spooky hidden tunnels, first built back in the building’s factory days. The tunnels served as an easy way for Witnesses to move between buildings in the complex, without ever having to leave. They were also, reportedly, as creepy as they sound, filled with “chain link cages” that stood in for office cubicles, according to eyewitness reports. The tunnels are now being filled in, according to the same report—some things might be better left unknown.

The most recent report from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle focuses on the landscape designs that are opening up the imposing exterior. The formerly walled-off complex was re-landscaped by Terrain-NYC, its huge eight-foot high walls knocked down to open up the building for passerby to enjoy.

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