Today Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills are homes to the fine work of African American architect Paul Revere Williams.
Williams was born in Los Angeles on February 18, 1894 to Lila Wright Williams and Chester Stanley Williams who had recently moved from Memphis with their young son, Chester, Jr.
By the age of 4, Williams and his siblings had lost both parents and were each placed in separate foster homes. Thankfully, Lila Williams instilled the importance of education in her children and led Paul Revere to develop his artistic talent.
The only Black child in high school, Paul Revere Williams teacher told him to avoid architecture because Whites would not hire him and blacks could not provide him work.
Williams ignored the advice and simultaneously pursued architectural education and professional experience with Los Angeles’ leading firms to great fanfare.
In 1922, Paul Revere Williams opened his own firm servicing the California elite and one year later he became the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects.
In a stellar career that spanned 50 years, Williams designed approximately 3,000 buildings, served on many municipal, state and federal commissions, was active in political and social organizations and in 1957, he was the first African American elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.
He is still known as the “Architect to the Hollywood Stars.”
He died in 1980 at the age 85.