Is J.J. Abrams Puzzle House Project Any Closer to Reality? [Mystery on Fifth Avenue]

by on October 8, 2011

in Entertainment

Back in the middle of 2008, in another life, I had reported on a puzzle house that J.J. Abrams was looking to base a new movie project on. Today, it’s being referred to as Mystery on Fifth Avenue.

Mystery on Fifth Avenue

This “puzzle house” is a 1920’s era, 14th floor apartment located on upper Fifth Avenue. What’s unique about this abode that caught J.J. Abrams eye was that the designer of this address, Eric Clough, designed it in such a way to be an entertaining home that has puzzles, poems and such laced within the construction. Designed to be discovered as time goes on, once the occupants figure out that something is afoot in this Mystery on Fifth Avenue!

It took Clough 4 years to design the $8.5 million (in ’03) place, adding the knowledge of cipher writing, furniture design and architecture into one set of melded skills.

Mystery on Fifth Avenue

But when the new residents were dealing with Clough and talking about basic upgrades, they had no idea that some of his smart ideas were going to turn the place into a huge puzzle, or scavenger hunt. Everything he added to the residence blended perfectly and when the new residents moved in, they had no clue what they were moving in to.

The first clue they found was in one of the childrens’ bedrooms where the radiator had a puzzle built into the design that spelled out the name of the son. (See article header image)

Later, as the new residents were lying in bed, a rod snapped off the bed. They called Mr. Clough to complain but all he said was that they just wait and see and snap it back in. It later turned out that the rod was part of a different, slightly more intricate puzzle key.

A year after moving in, the family received a letter that said,

Weve taken liberties with Yeats
to lead you through a tale
that tells of most inspired fates
in hopes to lift the veil.

Mystery on Fifth Avenue

Then the readers of the letter were directed to a panel that held a book that then led them on a scavenger hunt.

Check out the last puzzle and how the family had to solve it:

Mystery on Fifth Avenue

“removing decorative door knockers from hallway panels that fit together to make a crank, which opens hidden panels in a credenza in the dining room, which displayed multiple keys and keyholes, which, when the correct ones were used, yielded drawers containing acrylic letters and a table-size cloth imprinted with the beginnings of a crossword puzzle. Those answers lead to rectangular panels in the tiny den, which concealed a chamfered magnetic cube, which could be used to open the 24 remaining panels, revealing, in large type, a poem. “

This residence is made up of what’s referred to as a Rube Goldberg maze and putting it together took the generosity of 40 of the builders friends to pull it all together.

It’s totally awesome and everyone was lucky that the family that moved in were totally open to this situation. I’d hate to see what would have happened if they had ker-mudgens move in. And gads know, there’s enough of those out there!

This is the house that inspired J.J. Abrams into another idea for a movie… a movie called Mystery on Fifth Avenue. What’s cool is that Abrams saw the article written by Penelope Green (NY Times link below). Bad Robot then snagged screenplay writers Maya Forbes (Monsters vs Aliens ) and Wallace Wolodarsky (also Monsters vs Aliens), per IMDb.

That’s all we’ve heard to date so far, but I can’t wait to see if and when he starts to move on this project.

Mystery on Fifth Avenue could be interesting if it actually makes it to production. We’ll see.


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