Brooklyn Structure: The opulent Brooklyn Heights lodge
Editor’s note: A version of this post was originally published on October 20, 2010. You can see the original contribution here.
Hotel Bossert on 98 Montague Street is a survivor of the old days of Brooklyn Heights as a bustling hotel destination and social hub. Though not as large and comprehensive as the Hotel St. George, the Bossert was certainly the most opulent of the large apartment hotels in Brooklyn.
It was built by millionaire Louis Bossert, a Bushwick lumber and mill magnate. He hired Helmle & Huberty, perhaps because they had recently designed another opulent Bushwick masterpiece, St. Barbara’s Catholic Church.
The original 1909 hotel was expanded in 1912 and a ballroom was added to the luxury amenities. This included 375 rooms, which are accessible via a magnificently decorated lobby, as well as a dining area in the Palm Room.
This is a beautiful building highlighted by the pale diamond-patterned brick (which Helmle often used), balconies, a magnificent cornice, and a series of arched window bays with lion-head keystones.
The most famous place in the hotel, called the Waldorf-Astoria of Brooklyn, was the Marine Roof, a two-story restaurant and club with a breathtaking view of Manhattan. It opened in 1916 and was often visited by Jimmy Walker and Al Smith. The naval roof was closed in 1949, although unsuccessfully attempted to reopen in the 1960s.
In the 1950s, the hotel was the unofficial home of the Brooklyn Dodgers as several players lived there. A grand celebration was held in the lobby in 1955 when the Dodgers won the World Series against the Yankees.
From there it went downhill, however, and the building was allowed to deteriorate to the point where the naval roof collapsed. In 1988, Jehovah’s Witnesses bought the Bossert and began careful restoration of the building, including the ornate lobby.
The religious organization sold the hotel to Clipper Equity’s David Bistricer and the Chetrit Group in 2012. The boutique hotel planned for the building has yet to be opened.
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]
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