Black History Month #6 - Architect Paul R. Williams


Paul R. Williams was the other Black architect who worked on Langston Terrace Dwellings with Hilyard Robinson. He was born and was educated in California, earning his degree at the University of Southern California. In 1923, he became the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects.


He had a long and illustrious career (it’s estimated he designed about 3,000 buildings) and was very interested in the idea of the “modern house.” He published two books related to the concept. He was also very aware of the inequities of his work. He noted that many of the homes he designed were located in areas where he himself would not be allowed to live. He even learned to draft upside down, because so many clients were uncomfortable sitting next to a Black man. He designed homes for celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball.


He was posthumously awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal.

Photo of Paul R. Williams house courtesy Wikicommons, photo by Downtowngal

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Preserving and sharing the New Deal history of an experimental planned community built by FDR in suburban Maryland in 1937 and still thriving today.