Paul Revere Williams, FAIA (February 18, 1894 – January 23, 1980) was an American architect based in Los Angeles, California. He practiced mostly in Southern California and designed the homes of numerous celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Lon Chaney, Barbara Stanwyck and Charles Correll. He also designed many public and private buildings.
Williams came from a family of middle class Memphis residents: Chester Stanley and Lila Wright Williams. They migrated to Los Angeles in 1893 with their son, Chester, to start a fruit business, but were not successful. Paul was born in Los Angeles on February 18, 1894. His father died in 1896 from tuberculosis and his mother two years later from the same illness, leaving the boys in foster care. He was eventually adopted by C.I. Clarkson and his wife. Williams was the only African-American student in his elementary school. He studied at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design and at the Los Angeles branch of the New York Beaux-Arts Institute of Design Atelier, subsequently working as a landscape architect with Wilbur Cook, Jr. He studied architectural engineering from 1916 to 1919 at the University of Southern California, where he earned his degree, designing several residential buildings while a student there. Williams became a certified architect in California in 1921 and the first certified African-American architect west of the Mississippi. Continue Reading (3 minute read)