Skyline surprise: ‘Watchtower’ letters quietly removed from Brooklyn Heights building

Watching ‘em go: Workers on Wednesday removed the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ iconic Watchtower letters, which towered over Brooklyn Heights for more than 40 years.
Photo by Paul Martinka

It officially sign-ed off!

Workers tore the 15-foot red neon letters composing Brooklyn Heights’s iconic Watchtower sign from their framework on Dec. 6 as part of Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s ongoing transformation of the former Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters into a swanky office space.

The Witnesses filed plans with the Department of Buildings this summer to rip the East River-facing characters that towered over the nabe for more than 40 years from the roof of the Columbia Heights building, but locals were left guessing when that day would actually come.

And without notice on Dec. 6, workers climbed up onto the roof and started removing the heavy letters one by one in reverse — the “R” going first, and the “W” last.

Kushner stepped down as the chief executive of his development firm Kushner Companies in January, after the company — in a collective with developers Livwrk and CIM group called Columbia Heights Associates — purchased the building for $340 million in 2016. The group announced its plan to turn the religious organization’s home base into a massive office-and-retail complex in June.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses made their home in Brooklyn for more than a century, but the group is relocating its headquarters upstate and is bringing the letters with them.

The framework that held the characters — which includes a flashing time and temperature — remains in place, however, and may soon hold a new marker above Brooklyn Heights, according to one of the building’s owners.

“As the property undergoes its transformation into a world-class office campus, there is an opportunity to bring a new beacon to the Brooklyn skyline,” said Asher Abehsera, the founder of Livwrk.

The Watchtower letters join many now-gone placards that once hovered above Brooklyn, including the Kentile Floors, Eagle Clothes, and Bruno Truck Sales signs in Gowanus, Red Hook’s E.J. Trum sign — all of which remains are a floating period and “R” — and Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar sign, which will return to the factory’s landmarked refinery building after it is made over into a glass-and-brick office space.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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