Editor’s note: An updated version of this post can be viewed here.
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Hotel Bossert
Address: 98 Montague Street
Cross Streets: Corner of Hicks Street
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: 1908-1913
Architectural Style: Italian Renaissance Revival
Architect: Helmle & Huberty
Landmarked: Yes, part of Brooklyn Heights HD (1965)
The story: The Hotel Bossert is a survivor from Brooklyn Heights’ grand old days as a busy hotel destination spot and social hub. Although not as large and all-encompassing as the Hotel St. George, the Bossert was certainly the most opulent of Brooklyn’s grand apartment hotels. It was built by millionaire Louis Bossert, a Bushwick lumber and millwork magnate. He enlisted the firm of Helmle & Huberty, perhaps because they had recently designed another opulent Bushwick masterpiece, St. Barbara’s Catholic Church.
The original 1909 hotel was enlarged in 1912, and a ballroom was added to its luxurious amenities, which included 375 rooms which were accessed by a magnificently ornate lobby, as well as a Palm Room dining area. This is a beautiful building, highlighted by the pale, diamond patterned brick (which Helmle used often), balconies, a magnificent cornice, and a series of arched window bays with lion’s head keystones.
The most famous space in the hotel, called the “Waldorf-Astoria of Brooklyn,” was the Marine Roof, a two-story restaurant and club with an amazing view of Manhattan. It opened in 1916, and was often patronized by Jimmy Walker and Al Smith. The Marine Roof closed in 1949, although it tried to re-open again, unsuccessfully, in the 1960s. During the 1950s, the hotel was the unofficial home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, as several players lived there, and in 1955, a huge celebration took place in the lobby when the Dodgers won the World’s Series against the Yankees.
Things went downhill from there, however, and the building was allowed to deteriorate to the point where the Marine Roof collapsed. In 1988, the Jehovah’s Witnesses bought the Bossert, and began a meticulous restoration of the building, including the ornate lobby. The hotel has been on the market since 2008.
Update: The hotel was recently purchased by hotel developers David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit, who plan on returning the Bossert to the grand hotel she once was, with 2012 amenities. GMAP