Ryan Murphy is at it again.
The man that brought us spine-chilling series like American Horror Story: Murder House, American Horror Story: Coven, and Scream Queens is back with a new terrifying tale.
But this one takes him back to his journalistic roots.
For those less familiar with the director’s past achievements, Murphy began his career as a journalist for several major newspapers, penning articles for high-profile local publications like The Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Knoxville News Sentinel, and Entertainment Weekly.
His latest Netflix series, The Watcher, draws inspiration from another talented journalist’s work.
Four years ago, author Reeves Wiedeman wrote a haunting account of the Broaddus family’s experience moving into their new home in Westfield, New Jersey.
The article, published in The Cut, chronicled the family’s move and how a mysterious, threatening letter writer was stalking them.
Intrigued by the story, Ryan Murphy has now turned it into a major Netflix series timed to launch on our screens just in time for Halloween.
And since we can’t resist a good story with a dreamy house set at the center of the action, we set out to find both the real Watcher house in New Jersey and the lovely colonial that portrays it in the new Netflix show.
You’ll find the real house from The Watcher at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey
Based on a real story, The Watcher is centered on an equally real house located at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, NJ.
The 6-bedroom home was built in 1905 and is one of the grandest homes on the block, with an enviable location facing the wide, tree-lined street called the Boulevard.
This might give us an inkling as to why the nearly 4,000-sq-ft. house caught the eye of the so-called Watcher.
As the story goes, back in June 2014, Maria and Derek Broaddus were prepping their newly-bought home to welcome their family of five when they found their first letter in the mail.
And what initially seemed like an innocent note welcoming the family to the neighborhood soon turned awry as the letter, signed by The Watcher, sent the Broadduses down a path of fear and concern. The letter read:
657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. Do you know the history of the house? Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.
After a series of equally concerning missives — in which The Watcher revealed that he knows everything about the house’s new occupants, including what car they drive, how many children they have, the improvements they’re making to the residence — the home’s new owners took action.
Beyond calling the police, they reached out to the home’s former residents, who lived there for 23 years.
And while the past owners had indeed received a letter right before moving out, that was the first and only time they’d heard of The Watcher.
But we won’t go further into the story, as we don’t want to spoil the new series for our readers.
What we are going to do instead is provide some background information about the house itself.
Clocking in at a generous 3,869 square feet of living space, the idyllic three-story home consists of 6 bedrooms and 4 baths.
The Broaddus family paid $1,355,657 for their 657 Boulevard home back in 2014, public records show. This amounted to $350/square foot.
We don’t want to give away too much of the story, but we will say that the home last changed owners in 2019, when it sold for $959,000 — with its creepy backstory chipping away at its market value.
The same real estate agent that helped the family buy the house was the one who sold it to its newest occupants who, luckily, were left alone by The Watcher.
For the Netflix show, a Westchester County property served as filming location for the Brannock home
How about the fictional home of the Brannock family, you might ask?
For the Netflix series, the producers chose a grander, more modern house to portray the role of 657 Boulevard.
A sprawling 10,000-square-foot home located at 1 Warriston Ln, Rye, in Westchester County, NY was used as filming location for The Watcher house.
Built in 2016, the 19-room house was designed by renowned architect Douglas Vanderhorn, and served as a filming set for the fictional Brannock family’s house on the new Netflix show.
Spanning four floors, the cedar shake and stone colonial has 6 bedrooms, 7 baths, a 10-seat movie room, indoor basketball court, and a 70′ swimming pool/spa. Real estate website Zillow.com estimates its worth at around $6 million, making it far more valuable than the house it plays in the Netflix series.
But that’s very much intentional, as the house of the Brannocks — played by Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts — is their dream home, and the couple has invested “all of their savings into closing the deal”, according to the synopsis.
Either way, both homes are spectacular and we’re sorry to hear that neither the real-life Broaddus family nor the fictional Brannocks got to enjoy their otherwise spacious and inviting homes.
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