Expansion at Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses
THE preaching of the Kingdom message by Jehovah’s witnesses is expanding in all the earth, in 200 lands. In 1968 there were 1,155,826 active Witnesses, or more than five times the number there were just twenty years before!
To keep pace with this expansion, the international headquarters from which this gigantic preaching work is directed is also rapidly growing. May 2, 1969, saw the dedication of yet another addition to its complex of buildings in Brooklyn, New York. This seven-story home will be used to accommodate a portion of the growing headquarters staff of Jehovah’s witnesses.
FIRST OF ITS KIND
The new structure has the distinction of being the first one built in the United States in an officially designated historic landmarks district. In 1965 the area known as Brooklyn Heights was named as New York City’s first “Historic District.” This gave the Landmarks Preservation Commission powers to block demolition of old buildings and to regulate the type of new construction.
Thus, the plans of Jehovah’s witnesses to build a twelve-story home were altered to fit the requirements of the landmarks commission. Regarding this the New York Times of October 4, 1967, commented editorially: “The [Watchtower] society has made extensive changes in the building as originally planned to insure that it will conform to the character of the area. This kind of cooperative concern on the part of landowners is as important as laws in preserving the quality of any neighborhood.”
One request of the landmarks commission was that the front of three very old buildings be preserved. Therefore, the new home, located on the corner of Columbia Heights and Pineapple Streets, was designed to wrap around behind these three buildings. The rear of these buildings was torn down and the new structure is tied right into the front of them. Also, the large apartment building next to the new home, at 129 Columbia Heights, is owned by Jehovah’s witnesses. Already over 100 members of the headquarters family live there and, in time, this building will be linked with the new structure.
After a special dedication program, the 1,042 regular members of the headquarters family and more than sixty recently graduated missionary students enjoyed the first official tour of the new premises. How pleased they were!
Traveling through the long underground connecting tunnel, they came into the basement of the new building where the laundry will be located. Up on the first floor they saw where the garage, lobby, library and living quarters will be. The second floor has additional living quarters, two classrooms, and a four-foot-deep, sixteen-by-twenty-eight-foot pool for baptisms. The remaining four floors are exclusively for living quarters.
All together, there are rooming accommodations in the new structure for 104 persons. However, the adjoining apartment building eventually will provide living quarters for an additional 250 or so members of the headquarters family.
EXPANSION OF THE HOME
During the dedication program the president of the Watchtower Society, Nathan H. Knorr, described the expansion of the headquarters of Jehovah’s witnesses since its move to Brooklyn in 1909. In 1908 the old four-story brownstone parsonage of Henry Ward Beecher at 124 Columbia Heights and a similar building adjoining it had been purchased. These were converted into a home for the Society’s headquarters staff of thirty persons.
But due to rapid expansion, in 1911 spacious new housing accommodations adjoining the rear of the home on Columbia Heights were completed. Then in 1927, N. H. Knorr explained, further expansion at headquarters necessitated tearing down the buildings on Columbia Heights and putting up a new nine-story structure there, providing, in all, approximately 120 rooms. At that time there were about 180 members of the headquarters family.
By 1949 this number had increased to 284. Also, New York city planned a superhighway and for this purpose condemned a fifty-foot-wide portion of the Furman Street building. Thus, in 1949, a new twelve-story home was constructed on Columbia Heights and it was tied in to the 1927 structure. This made room for 450 persons.
However, in just ten years, the headquarters family had nearly doubled in number, and so construction was begun on another building directly across the street on Columbia Heights. In 1960 this huge structure, containing some 12,658 tons of concrete, 472 tons of steel and 230,000 bricks, was completed. This structure has a large auditorium, lecture hall, four classrooms and spacious office, and it more than doubled the living quarters of the home to about 950 persons.
Thus the brand-new 1969 seven-story building is only the latest expansion of the headquarters facilities of Jehovah’s witnesses. By means of underground tunnels these buildings, erected over the years, are joined together.
EXPANSION OF PRINTING FACILITIES
It is the demand world wide for Bibles and Bible literature that necessitates this headquarters expansion. Back in 1919 Jehovah’s witnesses secured factory space at nearby 35 Myrtle Avenue and began in 1920 its printing of the Watchtower magazine and other Bible literature.
Soon this place was too small, and in 1922 the move was made into a six-story building at 18 Concord Street just a few blocks away. Practically overnight there was, need for further expansion! So in 1927 a new eight-story factory was erected at 117 Adams Street, only about a ten-minute walk from the home on Columbia Heights.
Then, in 1949, factory space was almost doubled when a new nine-story addition was tied in to the Adams Street factory. This filled out the entire present city block! But demand for Bible literature did not let up, and just seven years later, in 1956, another block-large, thirteen-story factory was completed. Then in 1958 the nine-story factory on an adjoining city block was purchased and has been used almost exclusively for paper storage.
This provided a total of 436,000 square feet of factory floor space. But from 1957 to 1964 the number of Kingdom publishers placing Bible literature leaped from about 650,000 to over a million, and factory space was again cramped. Thus, in 1966, on an adjoining city block, construction was begun on the largest and newest factory of Jehovah’s witnesses. It is an eleven-story building with 226,000 square feet of floor space. Even though occupied less than two years, this factory, too, is rapidly being filled to capacity!
Since the fall of 1967 a total of seventy-one large, brand-new motor-operated machines for printing and binding books and Bibles have been installed here, and twenty-seven more of such machines are due for delivery soon. Four of the installed machines are mammoth forty-ton printing presses, raising the total of these in the factories to twenty-two. And seven more will be added by the end of next year! Also, three complete new lines for binding books and Bibles have been installed and two more will be installed this year.
KINGDOM MESSAGE SPREADING WORLD WIDE
This expansion at the headquarters of Jehovah’s witnesses is an indication of the spread of the Kingdom message world wide. For just the first eight months of this production year—September through April—17,718,518 books and Bibles were bound to meet the demand world wide, compared to 6,548,791 for the same time the previous year. So great has been the demand for Bible literature in all languages that it was necessary, not only to purchase more printing presses and bookbinding equipment, but also to arrange for a second shift of worker. Also, more than 132 million Watchtower and Awake! magazines were printed during these months, which is about 21 million over last year’s record production for the same period. The magazines printed in the Society’s plant at Brooklyn alone are in thirty-one languages; sixty-nine different magazines being produced here every month. In such quantity are they sent out that several trailer truckloads of magazines move out of the factory every day.
However, it is not only in Brooklyn that factories of Jehovah’s witnesses are expanding because of the demand for Bible literature. In Wiesbaden, Germany, for instance, the production of books leaped from 469,719 for the first seven months of last year to 1,911,981 during the same period this year! Also, the production of magazines went up from less than 17.5 million to over 24.5 million during the same period.
Truly it is thrilling to see such wonderful evidence of the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy regarding the worldwide spread of the Kingdom message! It is additional proof that we are living in the last days of this system of things.—Matt. 24:3, 14.
[Pictures on page 380]
Headquarters facilities of Watchtower Society, including enlargements in 1911, 1927 and 1949
Addition to Bethel Home completed in 1960
[Pictures on page 381]
Newest addition to Bethel Home in foreground. Alongside it, apartment building houses some members of growing headquarters staff
Watchtower factories cover four city blocks. From those in the foreground, over 16 million Bible magazines are sent out each month
[Picture on page 382]
Newest and largest factory of Jehovah’s witnesses, in foreground. 17,718,518 books bound here in past eight months