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Male, US, born 1894-02-18, died 1980-01-23

Associated with the firms network

Southeast Housing Architects, Associated; Stanton, Stockwell, Williams and Wilson, Associated Architects; Williams, Paul R. and Associates; Williams, Paul R., AIA; Williams, Paul R., Architect and Consultant; Williams, Paul R., FAIA

Professional History


Draftsman, Wilbur D. Cook, Jr., Landscape Architect, Los Angeles, CA, 1913.

Draftsman, Reginald D. Johnson, Architect, Los Angeles, CA, 1914-1917.

Draftsman/Designer, Arthur F. Kelly, Architect, Los Angeles, CA, 1917-1921.

Designer/Chief Draftsman, John C.W. Austin, Architect, Los Angeles, CA, 1921-1924. According to the Paul Williams, "...Paul R. Williams worked at John C. Austin's firm primarily designing commercial buildings. Eventually he became Chief Draftsman with a staff of twenty. In 1921 Paul R. Williams passed the State of California's architectural licensing examination and shortly after opened his own office. He continued to work for Austin until he developed his own client base. Williams maintained his relationship with Austin and collaborated with him throughout the years." (See "Young Paul R. Williams,"Accessed 02/06/2014.)

Principal, Paul R. Williams, Architect, Los Angeles, CA.

Professional Service

Williams became a Registered Architect in the State of CA in 1921. He was the first Afircan-American man to become a Registered Architect.

When surveyed in 1955, he indicated that he was a registered architect in CA, DC and NY; when surveyed in 1962, Williams indicated that he was a registered architect in CA, DC, NY, and TN.

Governor Earl Warren (1891-1974) appointed Williams to a new five-person State Urban Redevelopment Commission in late 1947; others on the commission were planner, L. Deming Tilton of San Francisco, Howard Nichols of Bakersfield, Howard C. Gampen of San Jose, and Festus T. McDounough of Los Angeles.

Professional Awards

Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA) for Public Service, 1957.

Honorary Member, Sigma Pi Phi, Moega Psi Phi, and Grand Boule;

Recipient, Spingarn Medal, National Association of Colored People (NAACP), 1953; the Springarm Medal was an award "...that singles out Negroes who have made an unusual contribution to community life." (See "The Spingarn Award," New York Times, 06/28/1953, p. E8)

Recipient, AIA, Gold Medal, 2017. This medal, the highest individual honor bestowed by the AIA, was awarded posthumously, 37 years after the architect's death.


The Paul R. Williams Papers are housed at the Art Museum of the University of Memphis (AMUM). The AMUM has an on-going research effort surrounding Williams's life and career, known as the "Paul R. Williams Project."


Elementary School/High School/College

Williams attended the Sentous Avenue Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA; Diploma, Polytechnic High School, Los Angeles, CA, 1912. Studio work, Society of Beaux Arts Architects of California, Los Angeles, CA, 1913-1916; Course in architectural engineering, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA.



Williams was born in Los Angeles, CA; where his parents had recently migrated from Memphis, TN.

He died in Los Angeles County, CA, at the age of 85;


His parents were Chester Stanley Williams, Sr and Lila A. Wright Williams. They both had migrated from Memphis, TN, several years before Paul's birth in 1894, where Chester worked as a waiter in the first Peabody Hotel's dining room. On arrival in Los Angeles, Chester took the opportunity to work for himself, and he opened a fruit stand at the Old Town Plaza. Paul had an older brother, Chester, Jr., who had been born at the Peabody Hotel. (See Paul R. Williams Project, "About the Project," accessed 06/26/2015.)


He married Della Mae Givens Williams (1895-1996). According to the California Death Index, Della Williams had been born in MO and died in Los Angeles County. (See "Della Mae Givens Williams," California Death Index, accessed 03/17/2015.)


When surveyed in 1955, Williams indicated that he had had two children, his daughters, Marilyn and Norma. Karen Hudson was one granddaughter, who wrote the book, Paul R. Williams, Architect, (New York: Rizzoli, 1993). Hudson has been responsible for a great deal of scholarship that has been done on her grandfather.

Personal Notes

Williams was one the pioneering African-American architects in California, the most successful during the first half of the 20th century. He was known as "P.R." to some of his employees; Williams served on a small committee of the American Institute of Architects, Southern California Chapter, advising movie producers on the film, "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House," in 1947. Paul R. Williams participated in a New York Herald-Tribune Forum held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1953, on "relationship between American industry and art, and the influence of mechanization on cultural values in the United States...." Williams, along with Henry Dreyfuss, industrial designer, Arthur A. Houghton, Jr., President of Steuben Glass, Incorporated, Charles E. Odegaard, Dean of the College of Literature, Science and Arts, University of MI, and Francis Henry Taylor, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; this forum was carried live on WNYC-FM radio. In 1959, Williams was one of 44 Republicans chosen to draft a statement of policy and objectives for the Republican Party. He was referred to as "Paul R. Williams, Los Angeles architect and Negro leader." SSN: 567-20-8337.

Associated Locations

  • Los Angeles, CA (Architect's Death)
    Los Angeles, CA

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  • Los Angeles, CA (Architect's Birth)
    Los Angeles, CA

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PCAD id: 68

1st African Methodist Episcopal Church #1, Pasadena, CAPasadenaCA
241 Rockingham Avenue House, Brentwood, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
2nd Baptist Church #2, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, CA 1919-1921Los AngelesCA
Angelus Funeral Home #1, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
Angelus Funeral Home #2, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
Arrowhead Hot Springs Hotel #4, San Bernardino, CA1939San BernardinoCA
Ball, Lucille-Arnaz, Desi, Sr., House, Los Palmas, Palm Springs, CAPalm SpringsCA
Berkeley Square Housing Tract, Las Vegas, NVLas VegasNV
Beverly-Wilshire Apartment Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA1926-1928Beverly HillsCA
Cass, Louis, House, La Cañada Flintridge, CALa Cañada FlintridgeCA
Chaney, Lon, House, Beverly Hills, CA1930Beverly HillsCA
Chasen's Restaurant, Beverly Hills, CA1936
Collins House, Hancock Park, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
Cord, Evrett Lobban, House, Beverly Hills, CA1933Beverly HillsCA
County of Los Angeles, Administration Building, Santa Monica, CA1950Santa MonicaCA
Degnan, James E. and Dorothy, House, Altacanyada, La Cañada-Flintridge, CA1927La Cañada FlintridgeCA
Duque, Gabriel Carlos, Sr., House, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
El Mirador Hotel, Palm Springs, CA 1927-1928Palm SpringsCA
Faron, Rene, House, Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
Fedco Department Store, Pasadena, CAPasadenaCA
Founder's Church of Religious Science, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
Fountain Court Restaurant, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
Glen, H.H., House, Los Angeles, CA1935Los AngelesCA
Golden State Life Insurance Company, Headquarters Building, Los Angeles1948Los AngelesCA
Hall, George, House, San Marino, CASan MarinoCA
Hamilton, Thomas, House, Arrowhead Springs, San Bernardino, CACA1936San BernardinoCA
Hudson-Ledell Medical Office Building, Los Angeles, CA1928Los AngelesCA
Isaacs, Hart, House, Bel-Air, Los Angeles, CA1935Los AngelesCA
Kries Drug Store, Palm Springs, CAPalm SpringsCA
Leistikow House, Hancock Park, Los Angeles, CA1923Los AngelesCA
Litton Industries, Parking Structure, Beverly Hills, CA1971-1972Beverly HillsCA
Livingston Motor Car Company, Woodland Hills, CAWoodland HillsCA
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Dacotah Street School, Los Angeles, CA1925-1927Los AngelesCA
Music Corporation of America (MCA), Headquarters Building, Beverly Hills, CA1940Beverly HillsCA
Nerney, Hamlin, House, Beverly Hills, CA1936-1937
Nicolosi House, Los Angeles, CA1931Los AngelesCA
Paley, Jay, House, Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, CA1935-1936Los AngelesCA
Palm Springs Tennis Club, Palm Springs, CA1948Palm SpringsCA
Perino's Restaurant #2, Los Angeles, CA1949Los AngelesCA
Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), General Plan, Westchester, Los Angeles, CA1928Los AngelesCA
Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Standard Oil Company of California, Gas Station, Westchester, Los Angeles, CA1961Los AngelesCA
Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Theme and Arch Building, Westchester, Los Angeles, CA1957-1961Los AngelesCA
Pueblo del Rio Public Housing, Vernon, CA1940-1941VernonCA
Rothman House, Hancock Park, Los Angeles, CA1926Los AngelesCA
Saint Jude Research Hospital for Children, Memphis, TN1962MemphisTN
Saks Fifth Avenue Store Building, Beverly Hills, CA1936-1937Beverly HillsCA
Sanitorium, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA1952Los AngelesCA
Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Courthouse #4, Los Angeles, CA1956-1958Los AngelesCA
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Botany Building, Westwood, Los Angeles, CA1956-1958Los AngelesCA
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Franz Hall, Westwood, Los Angeles, CALos AngelesCA
Watts Housing Development, Watts, Los Angeles, CA1941Los AngelesCA
Williams, Paul R., House, Lafayette Square, West Adams District, Los Angeles, CA1951Los AngelesCA
Wilshire Rodeo Building, Beverly Hills, CA1939Beverly HillsCA
Woodland Hills Honda Auto Dealership, Woodland Hills, CAWoodland HillsCA
Young, J.S., House, San Marino, CASan MarinoCA
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