All about the real house that inspired ‘The Watcher’
657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey seemed like a dream home. Derek and Maria Broaddus bought the house for almost $1.4 million in 2014.
Already living in Westfield – which was on Bloomberg’s list of America’s 100 richest cities in 2018, clocking in at 99th place – it was an upgrade for the young family, as they explained in an interview with 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 arrived. Over a period of a year and a half, the family received at least four threatening letters from a character who called himself “The Watcher”.
What was that supposed being the start of their new life was the start of something else: a series of lawsuits, inquiries 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 fictionalized versions of the Broadduses, Dean and Nora Brannock.
Here’s what to know about Westfield’s real home and what happened to it after buying the Broaddus.
The Broadduses never moved into 657 Boulevard
Unlike the series, in which the Brannock family immediately moves into the house, the Broadduses decided to complete the renovations before moving in.
Meanwhile, the family say they have started receiving disturbing 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 passing through 657 Boulevard every day. Maybe I’m in one. Look at all the windows you can see from 657 Boulevard. Maybe I’m in one.
As the months passed without the Broadduses, “The Watcher” expressed his displeasure at their absence: “657 Boulevard can’t wait for you to move in.”
The Broadduses leased and then sold 657 Boulevard in 2019
After selling 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 the house.
Speaking to NJ.com in 2017, the tenant — who was only identified by the name Chris — said he responded to the house’s ad without ever reading “The Watcher.”
“I never followed him…it’s not my problem,” the tenant said.
The house was sold in 2019 with a loss of approximately $400,000. Realtor, Beth Sullivan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, confirmed the purchase with TODAY at the time, saying the owners wished to remain anonymous.
What former residents of 657 Boulevard have said about the house
Before the Broaddus family moved in, the house – built in 1905 – had more than 100 inhabitants, including some notables: William H. Davies, the mayor of Westfield in the 1930s, lived there.
Margaret Davis, who lived in the house from 1963 until her marriage in 1988, told NJcom in 2015 that she was taken aback by the Watcher headlines.
“It just seems so weird,” Davis said. “We never saw anything like it when we were there. We had a great time there.
A former owner did receive a letter from the Observer
The Broadduses bought the house from a couple named John and Andrea Woods, who moved in in 1990. The Broadduses say one of The Watcher’s letters mentioned them: “I asked the Woods to bring me young blood and looks like they listened. ”
Maria Broaddus reached out, according to New York Magazine, and Andrea Woods told her they hadn’t received a letter in their 23 years at home – until just days before moving. Andrea said the letter sounded “strange”.
The Broadduses filed a civil lawsuit in 2015 against the Woods for not disclosing information about the letter, claiming the couple were “so desperate to sell the million-dollar house” that they “have deliberately failed to disclose… this disturbing letter”.
All three counts of fraud in the trial were dismissed by a Superior Court judge in 2017, according to NJcom, saying there was no evidence that Woods deliberately concealed the letter.
The judge also dismissed all four counts in a counterclaim filed by the Woods alleging the Broadduses were deliberately trying to smear their reputations through news reporting.
But ‘The Watcher’ on Netflix is filmed in another house
Dean and Nora Braddock’s home is supposed be Westfield, but it’s actually shot in Rye, NY