Paul Williams Architect

Posted: February 27th, 2012

Click to see The City Project’s slide show or photo set of Paul Willams’s work.

Preeminent architect Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980) designed thousands of buildings and houses throughout the United States and South America. As a black man in Los Angeles, he was barred by restrictive housing covenants from living in the very houses he designed, and in white parts of the city. Instead he lived in Lafayette Square, one of the few upper-middle-class neighborhoods open to blacks. In a July 1937 article in American magazine titled “I Am a Negro,” Williams discussed the racially-restricted housing that was prevalent in Los Angeles at the time. Referring to a client’s country house in “one of the most beautiful residential districts in the world,” he wrote: “Sometimes I have dreamed of living there. I could afford such a home. But this evening, leaving my office, I returned to my small, inexpensive home in an unrestricted, comparatively undesirable section of Los Angeles…because…I am a Negro.”

Williams designed over 3000 buildings, including: the new Golden State Mutual Life insurance building, Second Baptist Church, the 28th Street Y.M.C.A. Building, the Angelus Funeral Home, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the futuristic LAX restaurant, the St. Phillip the Evangelist Church and Parish Hall, private residences, housing projects and the First AME Church. First AME was started by Biddy Mason, herself an African American pioneer of early Los Angeles under statehood.