Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Williams, Paul R., Architect and Consultant (firm); Harriet Robings Shellenberger (interior designer); Paul Revere Williams (architect)

Dates: constructed 1951-1952

2 stories

West Adams Heights, Los Angeles, CA

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The trail-blazing African-American architect Paul Revere Williams designed this residence, completed in 1952, for himself and his wife Della M. Givens Williams.

Building History

Los Angeles architect Paul R. Williams (1894-1980) designed this West Adams District house for himself and his wife, Della Givens (. Williams was the leading African-American architect in Los Angeles and probably the United States, responsible for the houses of Hollywood celebrities, i.e., the Lon Chaney House, Beverly Hills, CA, (1930) and large projects such as the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) Expansion (1961, done in association with Welton Becket and Associates and Luckman and Pereira). This Lafayette Square section of the West Adams District, was also known as "Sugar Hill." It was a key residential area open to wealthy African-American families before racially-restrictive covenants were outlawed by the Supreme Court in the Shelley vs Kraemer decision (1948). Author Donald Bogle quoted architect Paul Williams remarking about the design of his house: "'I wanted it to be a place to live in first and foremost,' said Williams, 'not just something to show off.' But it was a showplace. When Paul and Della Williams arrived, the area was predominantly white. But other African Americans moved into beautiful homes on tree-lined streets. Joe Louis bought a house there. So did Dorothy Dandridge. Later Paul Williams's daughters Marilyn and Norma followed, with their families. For decades to come, Lafayette Square remained an oasis, as did areas such as Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills." (See Donald Bogle, "Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood, [New York: One World Ballantine Books, 2005], n.p.)

Building Notes

Architect's own house.

PCAD id: 3012