All About The Real House That Inspired ‘The Watcher’

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657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey seemed like a dream house. Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased the home for nearly $1.4 million in 2014.

Already living in Westfield — which made Bloomberg’s list of the 100 wealthiest towns in the U.S. in 2018, clocking in at 99th — this was an upgrade for the young family, as they explained in an interview in New York Magazine. Built in the Dutch Colonial Revival style, the house had six bedrooms, four bathrooms, four fireplaces and two porches.

Then, the letters came. Over the course of a year-and-a-half span, the family received at least four threatening letters from a figure that called himself or herself “The Watcher.”

What was supposed to be the start of their new life was the start of something else: A series of lawsuits, investigations and yes, letters. The couple never moved in, instead selling the house in 2019.

Now, their story is the inspiration for a Netflix show created by Ryan Murphy and starring Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts as a fictional version of the Broadduses, Dean and Nora Brannock.

Here’s what to know about the real Westfield home and what happened to it after the Broaddus’ purchase.

The Broadduses never moved in to 657 Boulevard

Unlike in the show, in which the Brannock family moves into the house immediately, the Broadduses decided to complete renovations before moving in.

During this time, the family says they began to receive the ominous typed letters from an individual called “The Watcher.”

“Who am I?” the letter-writer wrote in the first note to the Broaddus family. “There are hundreds and hundreds of cars that drive by 657 Boulevard each day. Maybe I am in one. Look at all the windows you can see from 657 Boulevard. Maybe I am in one.”

As the months went on without the Broadduses, “The Watcher” expressed discontent with their absence: “657 Boulevard is anxious for you to move in.”

The Broadduses rented out and later sold 657 Boulevard in 2019

Having sold their other home, the Broadduses continued to live with Maria’s mother in Westfield. They put the house back on the market in 2017, and when it didn’t sell, decided to rent out the house.

Speaking to NJ.com in 2017, the renter — who was identified only by the name Chris — said he responded to the ad for the home without ever reading about “The Watcher.”

“Never followed it … that is not my issue,” the renter said.

The house was sold in 2019 at a loss of about $400,000. The real estate agent, Beth Sullivan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, confirmed the purchase with TODAY at the time, saying the homeowners would like to remain anonymous.

What previous residents of 657 Boulevard said about the home

Prior to the Broaddus family moving in, the house — built in 1905 — had over 100 years of residents, some notable: William H. Davies, the mayor of Westfield in the 1930s, once lived there.

Margaret Davis, who lived in the home from 1963 until her marriage in 1988, told N.J.com in 2015 that she was surprised by the Watcher headlines.

“It sounds so bizarre,” Davis said. “We never had anything like this happen when we were there. We had a great time there.”

A previous owner did receive a letter from the Watcher

The Broadduses bought the house from a couple named John and Andrea Woods, who moved in in 1990. The Broadduses say one of the letters from The Watcher mentioned them: “I asked the Woods to bring me young blood and it looks like they listened.”

Maria Broaddus reached out, per New York Magazine, and Andrea Woods told her they hadn’t received a letter in their 23 years at the house — until days before moving out. Andrea said the letter seemed “odd.”

The Broadduses filed a civil lawsuit in 2015 against the Woods for not disclosing information about the letter, claiming that the couple was “so desperate to sell the million dollar home” they “willfully failed to disclose … this disturbing letter.”

 The lawsuit’s three counts of fraud were dismissed by a Superior Court judge in 2017, per N.J.com, saying there was no evidence the Woods deliberately hid the letter.

The judge also dismissed all four counts in a counter claim filed by the Woods alleging the Broadduses were deliberately trying to smear their reputation through news stories.

But ‘The Watcher’ on Netflix is filmed in a different house

Dean and Nora Braddock’s house is supposed to be Westfield, but it’s actually filmed in Rye, N.Y.


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