The Pilot House!Mar 5th, 2009 | By Lindsay | Category: 90210 & Beverly Hills, 90210 Filming Locations
One filming location that has pretty much been the bane of Mike, from MovieShotsLA, and my existence for quite some time now is the home that the Walsh family lived in during the very first of episode of Beverly Hills, 90210. Mike and I fondly, and sometimes not so fondly – LOL – refer to this location as “The Pilot House” since it was used in one episode and one episode only of our favorite 90’s series – the pilot episode. The home was never seen again on the series and the question as to why the Walshes lived in a different house when the show began than in later episodes has remained a location mystery for the past twenty years. It’s actually quite common, though, for certain elements of a television series, i.e. locations or actors, to be changed after a pilot episode is filmed. Pilots are usually filmed with extremely small budgets months before regular series filming begins. After a pilot is filmed, it is then shopped around to different networks in the hopes of being sold. The sad truth is that less than twenty five percent of the television pilots that are filmed ever get picked up by the networks, so producers aren’t usually willing to spend a boatload of money to shoot them. But even so the questions as to where the original Walsh home was located and as to why the Walsh home changed from the traditional style home pictured above to the famous Spanish style home that we all know and love have never been answered. Until now!
A few weeks ago while Mike was watching the pilot episode of 90210 he noticed the number 130 located above the front door of the Walsh home – a little location clue neither of us had picked up on before. (Pictured above). So pretty much immediately the two of us started searching 100 blocks in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. We must have scrutinized almost every single square inch of L.A. looking for this house! With no luck, I might add. Mike’s instincts kept telling him that the house was located in a gated community due to the fact that the street in front of the home appeared extremely narrow on TV. But, knowing that the shooting budget for the pilot was most likely meager and that filming on a private road is usually a whole lot more costly than filming on your average city street, I disagreed with him. Until last week, that is.
While driving through Brentwood with my boyfriend last week I saw a gated community that I had never noticed before. I could tell just by driving by that it bore a striking resemblance to the 90210 pilot neighborhood. So when I got home that night I did some cyberstalking and quickly found a house in the community with a 130 address that looked a whole lot like the Walsh’s first Beverly Hills home. But I couldn’t be certain it was the Pilot House until I saw the property with my own two eyes. And I was really worried that, being that the home is located in a gated community, I would never get that chance. Well, I must have a guardian angel watching over me, because on a whim, last weekend, I asked my boyfriend to drive by the neighborhood. I knew there was a house for sale just up the road from the pilot house and I had a bit of a hunch. Sure enough – right as we drove up to the community, there on a sign in big red letters were the words I was hoping beyond all hope to see – OPEN HOUSE! YAY! And that was my ticket in!
Let me tell you, as we came around the corner and the Pilot House came into view, I was so excited I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest!!!! I was pinching myself the whole time! It was so surreal to finally be standing there in front of a filming location I had wondered about for almost twenty years! I almost felt as if any second I would wake up at home in bed only to realize that none of it was real. LOL The Pilot House is a lot smaller in person than it appeared on the show, but otherwise, even twenty years later, it looks EXACTLY the same as it did on 90210! And I could not have been more ecstatic to finally be seeing it with my own two eyes!!!!! The neighborhood where the Pilot House is located is really beautiful, too, with towering trees, huge lawns, and hilly, winding roads. The house for sale wasn’t too shabby, either – yes, of course, we went to go see it!
And once I determined that the home was located in a gated community, the other part of the 90210 pilot house mystery was solved, too. Upon entering, I just happened to ask the guard on duty at the guard shack if the community allowed filming of any sort to take place on the premises. He told me that in fact filming is not allowed and he laughed as if he gets asked that question all the time. I am sure location scouts come a-knockin’ at the guard shack door all too often. My best guess is that back in 1990, when the pilot episode was filmed, there was no ban on filming in the neighborhood. The pilot house was probably the first home on the premises ever used for filming of any sort. And I am pretty sure it must have belonged to someone on the production team – ie. the director, producer, art director, etc. It actually happens more often than you’d think that someone involved with a lower budget production will offer up their home for filming to keep costs down. Because the Pilot House is a beautiful home located in an upscale community, and since the 90210 pilot budget was most likely quite small, I think that is exactly what happened. Otherwise I just don’t see how they could have afforded to film there. If you’ve seen the pilot episode as many times as I have, you’ll remember that most of the location shooting at the Walsh house took place at night, which I am sure angered quite a few neighbors. Night shoots usually last from sunset to sunrise and can be loud, messy, and annoying to anyone whose house is nearby. So I am gonna go out on a limb and say that during the production of 90210, a few of the neighbors probably got a little miffed about the filming and as soon as the pilot wrapped, members of the small community (there are only 67 houses on the property) made certain nothing like that would ever happen again. So when Beverly Hills, 90210 got picked up as a series three to six months later, the producers were left without a home to use for filming. And that’s how we ended up with Casa Walsh.
Now we can FINALLY put to bed one of the greatest filming location mysteries of all time. Now if only I could find that darn Girls Just Want To Have Fun apartment!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The 90210 Pilot House is located at 130 North Gunston Drive in the Brentwood Circle community. Please remember that this home is located in a private, gated community, and unless they open their gates for a reason (ie. an open house), you should not be on the property.