Did you know that Black architect Paul Revere Williams designed the homes of Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and other Hollywood stars?
Paul Revere Williams was the architect to the stars. Born in Los Angeles, he was, of course, discouraged from studying the field. But he was relentless and in 1919 was the first Black graduate of the University of Southern California, engineering and architecture department.
He started his career as a draftsman, but by 1923, he opened his own practice. Los Angeles was a fairly young city then, and it was in a construction boom. So there was plenty of work for a talented architect like Williams. In his career, he designed nearly 2,000 commercial and civic buildings including the Los Angeles County Courthouse, the Hollywood YMCA, the First AME Church (Los Angeles), Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills and the iconic Theme Building at the Los Angeles Airport.
But he is best known as the “Architect to the Hollywood Stars.” He designed the homes of Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and others. He was first African American man to become a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He died in 1980.