The True Story of 657 Boulevard
Viewers of Netflix’s The Watcher will undoubtedly have one pressing question as they binge: What the heck happened to that house?
The series helmed by Ryan Murphy is based on the true story of a family moving into a beautiful home in Westfield, New Jersey in 2014; but they get harassed by an anonymous letter-writer called The Watcher who claimed to be watching the house. The series fictionalizes the nightmare the Broaddus family experienced, but the house itself is very real. Here’s what to know about it.
Where is the Watcher House located?
The now infamous Watcher House is located at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, a fairly upper middle class neighborhood in New Jersey.
Why is the Watcher House scary?
Once they purchased the property, the Broadduses almost immediately began renovations on it. Luckily, they hadn’t yet fully left their old house, because shortly after the papers were signed, the husband Derek Broaddus received a letter in the mail. This letter was from an anonymous person calling themselves “The Watcher.”
The writer claimed that they were one Watcher of many generations tasked with observing the house. This is creepy enough, but the letters made very specific references to Derek, his wife Maria, and their children, even calling them by name.
As more letters rolled in, the Broaddusses were driven increasingly mad by police investigations, accusations of forgery, and attempts at finding a buyer for the house. (In an act of transparency, they insisted potential buyers read The Watcher’s letters, which sunk most sales.)
How much did the Watcher House cost?
The colonial style house cost $1,355,657 for 3,920 square feet in 2014. In reality, Derek and Maria weren’t sure at first if they should just try to stay in the house, but the letters began to get even more specific. The Watcher also frequently got threatening, referring to their children as “young blood.”
Why didn’t the Watcher House sell right away?
As police investigations began on their neighbors, it got harder for the Broadduses to keep the story to themselves and the house developed quite a reputation. Once they decided to sell, they had to lower their price. While some people thought they’d have an opportunity to get a great deal, most of them backed away from it after actually reading The Watcher’s letters. Here’s a taste:
657 Boulevard is anxious for you to move in…It has been years and years since the young blood ruled the hallways of the house. Have you found all of the secrets it holds yet? Will the young blood play in the basement? Or are they too afraid to go down there alone.
Yikes! The couple then tried to get permission to pull down the house and break the property in two building lots. They could not get the move approved by the local council.
Who bought the Watcher House?
Finally, in 2019, the Watcher House was sold to an anonymous buyer for $959,000. The Broaddus family took a loss of $400,000. But they also no longer have to deal with The Watcher, which is truly priceless.
Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.