Prominent Black Architect Paul Revere Williams' Craftsman Home Is Now A Historical Monument
Many people know the buildings and homes Paul Revere Williams designed throughout Los Angeles, but not many know of the Black architect's first home, where he was forced to live due to racist housing covenants.
Williams was one of L.A.'s most influential architects and a Black pioneer in the world of design and architecture. Now, the city council has designated his no-frills craftsman home as a historic-cultural monument.
The home at 1271 West 35th Street, where Williams lived from 1921 to 1951, is in dire need of repair. It doesn't have the architectural significance Williams applied to his projects, but it helps people understand his early career as an architect and the racism Williams endured.
The LA Conservancy's Adrian Scott Fine says the home has some protection if anything tries to change its character. He's also the one who nominated the house for the designation.
"This is part of his full story, this house tells it, and that's why it's important that it's preserved," he said. "It's less about its architecture, [and] more about its socio-cultural story and significance."
Williams designed thousands of buildings during his six-decade career, including the Stanley Mosk Courthouse and The Beverly Hills Hotel. He was a part of the team that designed the iconic L.A.X. Theme Building and even designed homes for Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball.
"While he was designing beautiful houses that he would love to live in himself in beautiful neighborhoods in other parts of Los Angeles, but at the end of the day, he had to come back to this house and what he was describing as a relatively undesirable part of the city," Fine said.
Fine points out that L.A. and many other cities have done a good job at recognizing architecturally significant places. But, he says the conservancy is doing more work to talk about culturally and socially significant places.
"So it may be that we're working to save and protect places that look pretty ordinary or modest-looking," he says. "But they have extraordinary stories in which they can tell, and that's really important in understanding the full history of the places in which we live."