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Male, US, born 1907-04-24, died 2000-10-21

Associated with the firms network

Vaughn and Wharton; Vaughn, Ralph A., Associates, Architects; Vaughn, Ralph, Designer; Wharton and Vaughn, Associated Architects; Williams, Paul R., FAIA

Professional History


An early African-American architect in Los Angeles, a one-time sneior set designer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, was also associated with another black architectural pioneer, Paul R. Williams (1894-1980), on large-scale residential and commercial projects in Los Angeles. He associated or partnered with other licensed architects in CA between the 1930s and 1963. In the latter year, he passed his architectural licensing exam, and became a regisitered architect in CA.

Draftsman, Albert Irvin Cassell, Architect, Washington, DC, c. 1933; Cassell (1895-1969), a pioneering African-American architect in the Washington, DC, area, designed many university buildings in MD, VA and Washington, DC. He became the Campus Architect and an Architecture Professor at Howard University in the early 1920s.

Draftsman, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Resettlement Administration, c. 1933-1935.

Consultant, Hilyard Robinson, Architect, Washington, DC, c. 1934.

Designer, Paul R. Williams, Architect, Los Angeles, CA, 1937-1941.

Set Designer, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Studios, Los Angeles, CA, 1941-1945. While at MGM, he worked with the set designer, Austin Cedric Gibbons (1893-1960) on such films as A Guy Named Joe (1943), Kismet (1944), Thirty Seconds over Tokyo (1944), and The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954). The set for Kismetwas nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction.

Partner, [John C.] Lindsey and Vaughn, Architects, Los Angeles, CA, c. 1945.

Associate, Heth Wharton and Ralph Vaughn, Associated Architects, Los Angeles, CA, 1950-1951.


Assistant Professor, Howard University, Washington, DC, c. 1935.

Professional Activities

Member, Los Angeles Building and Safety Commission, Los Angeles, CA, 1953. Member, Archaeological Institute of America. Member, National Society of Interior Decorators. Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Member, Society of American Registered Architects.


High School/College

Graduate, Armstrong Manual Training School, Washington, DC, 1925.

Coursework, Howard University, Washington, DC, c. 1925-1926

B.S., Architecture, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, c. 1927-1932. Vaughn founded an African-American fraternity at the University of Illinois, Omega Psi Phi. He also participated in the clubs Stylus, Le Cercle Francais and the Intercollegiate Club. (See University of Illinois Yearbook, Illio, 1932, p. 139.)

Graduate coursework, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, summer 1932.



Born in Washington, DC, Vaughn resided in that city until at least 1935. He lived with his family at 506 T Street NW in Washington, according to the US Census of 1920. He lived at this address with his parents, three sisters, maternal grandparents--John P. Waring (born 08/1861 in Washington, DC) and Emma Waring (born 02/1877 in Washington, DC)--and two boarders. The Vaughns lived in this residence from at least 1910 until 1942. (See, Source Citation Registration State: District of Columbia; Registration County: Washington; Roll: 1556844; Draft Board: 08, and, Source Citation The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards [Fourth Registration] for the District of Columbia; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Box or Roll Number: 070, accessed 07/19/2017.)

He came to Los Angeles, CA, by 1937, when his first built work has been recorded in that city. The 1940 US Census noted that he lived with his wife and infant son at 1818 36th Street in Los Angeles. (See, Source Citation Year: 1940; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T627_416; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 60-363, accessed 07/19/2017)

In 1993, a Ralph A. Vaughn lived at 564 N Larchmont Blvd, Apt 100, Los Angeles, CA, 90004-1324. (See (See Source Information U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010, accessed 07/19/2017.)


His father, Roscoe Ingersoll Vaughn (born 12/24/1884 in Washington, DC-d. 12/1971 in Washington, DC), worked as a public school teacher from at least 1910 until 1942. In 1942, he taught at the Franklin School at 13th and K Streets in Washington, DC. His mother was Mary "Mamie" Elizabeth Waring Vaughn (born c. 11/1886 in Washington, DC), who managed a large household. Ralph Vaughn's siblings included Mildred M. Vaughn Young (born c. 1909 in Washington, DC), Lorraine Agatha Vaughn Magowan (born 02/01/1914 in Washington, DC-d. 11/29/1999 in Washington, DC), and Mary Imogene.Vaughn (born c. 1920 in Washington, DC).


His wife Elizabeth Estelle Christmas Fry (born c. 1913 ) was also born in Washington, DC, and had finished five years of college according to the 1940 US Census. (See, Source Citation Year: 1940; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T627_416; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 60-363, accessed 07/19/2017) They married in Washington, DC, on 04/07/1934.


Elizabeth and Ralph had a son, Ronald Fry Vaughn (born 03/07/1940 in Los Angeles, CA).

Biographical Notes

Washington, DC, marriage records indicated that Ralph Vaughn's middle name was "St. A," presumably "Saint Augustine." (See Source Information District of Columbia, Marriage Records, 1810-1953 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016, accessed 07/19/2017.)

Associated Locations

PCAD id: 1067