Are you ready to have your life get flipped, turned upside-down? I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how you can become the prince (or princess) of a town called Bel-Air! Well, Brentwood, actually.
Will Smith set the internet ablaze this past Sunday when he announced via Instagram that the mansion that served as his home on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (now streaming on HBO Max) was going to be made temporarily available as an Airbnb vacation rental in honor of the 30th anniversary of the popular sitcom, which debuted on September 10th, 1990.
The Colonial-style dwelling is where, after getting into “one little fight” on a basketball court in West Philadelphia, Smith (playing a fictionalized version of himself) is sent to live with his wealthy “auntie and uncle,” Philip (James Avery) and Vivian Banks (initially played by Janet Hubert, later by Daphne Reid).
Spoiler! The Banks residence is not actually located in Bel-Air but on a tony street in Brentwood, about five miles west of the upscale neighborhood that lent the NBC series its name.
For years, the Banks mansion went misidentified by tour companies, websites, and L.A. guidebooks alike, all of which claimed an actual Bel-Air property at 417 Amapola Lane was featured on the show. Knowing the information was incorrect — other than being Colonial, the Amapola pad bears little resemblance to the Banks residence — a “Fresh Prince” fan reached out to me in 2008, hoping I could put the mystery to rest, a challenge I readily accepted. Employing some good old-fashioned armchair detective work, I wound up finding the correct mansion listed on an online filming location database and a contact there then supplied me with the address, 251 North Bristol Avenue. Camera in hand, I ran out to see it shortly thereafter.
Click on the Gallery link above for more Dirt on the “Fresh Prince” house and how you can rent it.