The terms “lighthearted” and “police procedural” typically don’t go together, but “The Mysteries of Laura” is a perfect mesh of both. Chronicling the life and times of Laura Diamond (Debra Messing), a shrewdly intuitive NYPD detective/single mom who busts criminals by day while raising her young twin boys at night, the show offers a decidedly upbeat take on the genre. Based upon Spain’s “Los Misterios de Laura,” the series was developed for American screens by Jeff Rake, who was also behind “Miss Match” and “Manifest,” and debuted on NBC in 2014. Not exactly embraced by audiences, it was canceled after just two seasons but has since made its way to Amazon Prime, where it is proving far more binge-able than its darker television brethren thanks to its far less serious leanings.
Set and filmed in the Big Apple, the storyline focuses on New York City’s fictional 2nd Precinct, with Brooklyn’s 78th Precinct building, located at 65 6th Ave., standing in for the station where Laura reports to work each day under her caddish ex-husband, Captain Jake Broderick (Josh Lucas). (Eagle-eyed viewers will likely recognize this spot from its longtime role as the 99th Precinct on the popular comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”) When not at the office, Laura can be found at “Mysteries'” other central locale, the sprawling Tudor-esque Victorian where the detective lives with her two sons, Nicholas and Harrison Broderick (played by real-life twins Charlie and Vincent Reina, respectively).
In real life, the home is located exactly where it is purported to be on the series – in Flatbush, Brooklyn, though Laura’s address of 1225 E. 16th St. is fictional. The pad can actually be found just a stone’s throw from Prospect Park at 1203 Albemarle Rd. in Flatbush’s upscale Prospect Park South subsection. (Please remember this is a private home. Do not trespass or bother the residents or the property in any way.)
The charming neighborhood, which sits about seven miles south of downtown Manhattan, was the brainchild of prolific real estate developer Dean Alvord, who purchased 60 acres of farmland in what was then a rural stretch of Brooklyn in 1899, transforming it into an idyllic community dotted with large single-family residences. The enclave is one of New York’s most desirable today, with its large concentration of “renovated architecturally-distinct homes regularly trading for over $2 million,” according to Digs Realty Group.
Thanks to that broad and varied collection of preserved estates, Prospect Park South is also one of the city’s most oft-filmed, with the district’s many exquisite Queen Anne, Tudor and Colonial-style properties popping up regularly on both the big and small screens. Just of few of the area’s most cinematically-famous pads include the Colonel Alexander Bacon House at 101 Rugby Rd., where Zofia “Sophie” Zawistowski (Meryl Streep) lives in the 1982 drama “Sophie’s Choice,” the Gale House at 1305 Albemarle Rd., which lawyer Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver) calls home in 1990’s “Reversal of Fortune” and, of course, “The Mysteries of Laura” House.
The shingled structure was originally designed in 1905 by John J. Petit of the Kirby, Petit & Green firm, who worked directly under Alvord, serving as the Prospect Park South development’s chief architect, mainly responsible for its wide array of styles. As detailed by a Landmark Preservation Commission report on the area, “Petit was one of a large number of turn-of-the-century architects, who, in order to appeal to the eclectic interests of contemporary patrons, were proficient in the design of buildings in many stylistic variants.” Commissioned by real estate agent George W. May and his wife, Mary, Petit fashioned 1203 Albemarle with both Tudor and Victorian elements, including a peaked roof, half-timbering, multiple bay windows, decorative strapwork and an octagonal tower with a rooftop finial.
The massive three-story residence has not changed hands for two and a half decades, last selling in September 1998 for $490,000. Therefore pertinent details are rather scant, with Zillow, Realtor.com and the like noting little else besides a square footage of 4,916. An ad published in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1919 offers a bit more insight, though, with a mention of the home’s 12 total rooms, three baths and an elevator. Additional reporting by the paper lists the living areas as including multiple parlors, a formal dining room and an array of bedroom suites.
Situated on a 0.18-acre lot with a detached two-car garage designed by John B. Slee & Robert H. Bryson in 1929, Zillow estimates the dwelling is worth just shy of $3 million today. That’s pretty steep for an NYPD detective, even one repeatedly described as being the very best of the entire 2nd Precinct!
The grand residence appears regularly throughout “The Mysteries of Laura’s” two short seasons, featured in both establishing shots and in on-location scenes, including in the episode titled “The Mystery of the Deemed Dealer” in which Laura’s partner, Detective Billy Soto (Laz Alonso), spots a thoroughly disheveled Jake leaving the premises early one morning following a night out.
With its expansive size, towering corner turret ringed by a succession of windows and prominent tree-filled corner lot, the dwelling packs quite a cinematic punch whenever it enters the screen.
The series’ pilot episode made full use of the property’s interior, granting audiences a glimpse at its gorgeous stained glass windows and Ionic columns.
Once the show was picked up by NBC, production designer Malchus Janocko (who also fashioned the looks of “The Carrie Diaries,” “Orange is the New Black” and “FBI”) created a set for all scenes involving the inside of Laura’s house on a soundstage at Silver Cup Studios East in Queens. As evidenced above, his design bears little resemblance to the Flatbush pad’s actual style, layout, coloring or overall aesthetic.
“The Mysteries of Laura” is not the only small-screen production to feature the property. It also appears on the HBO series “Girls” as the supposed Iowa house that Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) leases (for only $800 a month!) while attending the University of Iowa’s esteemed Writers’ Workshop in season four. First appearing in the episode titled “Triggering,” the abode only pops up a handful of times before Hannah decides to drop out of the program and move back to New York.
The structure’s real interior is also featured in “Girls,” with Hannah setting up her bedroom in the same area that portrayed Laura’s living room in “The Mysteries of Laura” pilot.