Commissioned by a veritable backlot of film stars, enterprise magnates, and Hollywood energy gamers, the 1000’s of personal properties designed by the outstanding Southern California architect Paul Revere Williams will be discovered peppered all through the costliest zip codes and unique neighborhoods in and round Los Angeles. Nevertheless, the house of Williams himself, the place he lived alongside his spouse Della Mae Givens and a rising household starting in 1921, was far humbler than the residences that helped catapult the L.A. native to mid-Twentieth century architectural stardom.
Now, with the current blessing of the Los Angeles Metropolis Council, that modest Craftsman-style bungalow at 1271 West thirty fifth Avenue in South L.A.’s Jefferson Park neighborhood is town’s latest designated Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM).
Whereas Williams’ skilled successes may have simply afforded him a household dwelling similar to those commissioned by his movie star purchasers, he, as a Black architect, settled in Jefferson Park (the neighborhood is positioned with a bigger district contemporarily referred to as Historic West Adams) as a result of strict racial covenants that blanketed giant elements of L.A. on the time. These covenants didn’t exist in Jefferson Park, and, consequently, a large Black neighborhood thrived there.
As Williams wrote within the 1937 essay “I Am a Negro:”
“As we speak I sketched the preliminary plans for a big nation home which shall be erected in one of the stunning residential districts on the earth. Typically I’ve dreamed of dwelling there. I may afford such a house. However this night, I returned to my very own small, cheap dwelling… in a relatively undesirable part of Los Angeles. I need to all the time stay in that locality, or in one other prefer it, as a result of…I’m a Negro.”
The excerpt from that essay has been shared by the nonprofit Los Angeles Conservancy, which spearheaded the marketing campaign to landmark Williams’ first dwelling in Jefferson Park as an HCM. Because the Conservancy defined, the house “illustrates part of Paul Revere Williams’ life and story that’s hardly ever instructed or totally understood. In telling the total story about individuals and locations, it is very important protect this home as a bodily reminder of what Williams achieved and his extraordinary profession in structure.” Till just lately, the house was up on the market and threatened by potential redevelopment.
“So it could be that we’re working to avoid wasting and defend locations that look fairly extraordinary or modest-looking,” relayed the Conservancy’s Adrian Scott Superb to LAist. “However they’ve extraordinary tales during which they’ll inform, and that’s actually essential in understanding the total historical past of the locations during which we stay.”
The push to landmark 1271 West thirty fifth Avenue formally kicked off in September 2021 when town’s Cultural Heritage Fee (CHC) voted unanimously to take the Conservancy’s pending nomination submission into account. Simply over two months later, the CHC voted to suggest the Paul Revere Williams Home Historic-Cultural Monument to the Metropolis Council’s Planning and Land Use Administration (PLUM) Committee.
Issues moved alongside slowly and simply earlier this month, the PLUM Committee threw its help behind the pending nomination. Shepherded by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, the nomination then moved to the total Metropolis Council. On February 16, council members voted unanimously in help of the nomination’s passage. And, with that, the primary dwelling owned by a pioneering Black architect who helped to formed L.A.’s fashionable cityscape was designated as a Historic-Cultural Monument.
Williams and his household lived within the now-landmarked Jefferson Park dwelling for 3 many years. In 1951, 14 years after he penned “I Am a Negro,” Williams and his household moved from West thirty fifth Avenue to a house of his personal design in a L.A. neighborhood of his personal selecting, the semi-gated Mid Metropolis neighborhood of LaFayette Sq.. That Worldwide-style residence at 1690 South Victoria Avenue, the place Williams lived till his loss of life in 1980, was designated as town’s one hundred and seventieth HCM in 1976. It hit the marketplace for the primary time in 2017 for $2.4 million.
As beforehand famous by AN, whereas HCM designation received’t present the Jefferson Park dwelling with immunity from potential redevelopment and demolition down the road, it will permit preservationists to delay demolition by 180 days—and as much as 360—in order that an alternate decision could also be discovered.
Named as the primary African American member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923 and later its first Black fellow (he was posthumously awarded the AIA Gold Medal in 2017), Williams designed many different notable buildings— church buildings, faculties, inns, eating places, public housing tasks, municipal buildings, and extra—in a variety of types throughout Southern California along with his residential commissions throughout Hollywood’s Golden Age. Though smaller in quantity, he additionally designed a handful of buildings exterior of L.A. and environs together with the St. Jude Youngsters’s Analysis Hospital in Memphis, the La Concha Motel, now a part of the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, and the landmark Lodge Nutibara in Medellín, Colombia.
Williams’ expansive portfolio additionally extends to the modernist desert mecca of Palm Springs. His work there, together with the enduring Palm Springs Tennis Membership designed in collaboration with A. Quincy Jones, in addition to his bigger affect as a trailblazing Black architect shall be mentioned within the three-part forthcoming symposium, Tales Untold: Black Modernists in Southern California, being held at the moment, February 21, as a part of town’s annual Modernism Week festivities.