For Day 6 of 28 of my Black History Month series, I’m highlighting a notable architect. I’m trying to share random and maybe not-as-well-known Black History facts. (Hope you all are enjoying them.) Today it’s about Paul R Williams.

Paul lost both his parents by the time he was 4 years old. He and his brother were placed in separate foster homes where Paul was fortunate to have grown up with a foster mother who encouraged his education and artistic talent. Growing up in California, he experienced very little prejudice however when he got to high school, a teacher discouraged him to become an architect since they were worried of him not attracting clients from the white community and black communities wouldn’t provide enough work.

Nonetheless, in 1921, Paul became the first certified African-America architect west of Mississippi. He opened his own practice in 1923 and became the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects.

He is the notable name behind landmarks such as: MCA, Saks Fifth Avenue, Palm Springs Tennis Club and Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building. The private residences he designed for leaders in business and entertainment became legendary: actor Bert Lehr, comedians Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, dancer Bill (Bojangles) Robinson, popular entertainer Frank Sinatra and the entrepreneurial Cord and Paley families.

Paul also designed the Pearl Harbor Memorial in honor of dead naval heroes (Grave of the Unknown Soldier)

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