Paul Revere Williams House
UPDATE: Great news, as of January 31, 2023, the Paul Revere Williams House has a new owner! Curt Bouton and architect John Arnold have purchased the house and plan to fully rehabilitate it and honor the story of Williams' family. The Conservancy is so thankful to Curt and John for coming to the rescue and taking this project on. We look forward to watching the progress and celebrating once it is all done and ready to be a home again!
On February 16, the City Council voted unanimously in support of the Conservancy's pending Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination for the Paul Revere Williams House, making it official and now included as part of the City's list of designated HCMs. Thank you Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson for your support!
On February 1, 2022, the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee (agenda item #9) voted unanimously in support for the pending Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination for the Paul Revere Williams House. On November 4, 2021, the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) voted to recommend the Paul Revere Williams House Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) to the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee. We will share the date once a PLUM hearing is scheduled for this nomination.
On September 2, 2021, the CHC reviewed the Conservancy's pending HCM nomination for this house. Through a unanimous vote, the CHC agreed to take the nomination under consideration.
The simple Craftsman style house at 1271 West 35th Street illustrates a part of Paul Revere Williams' life and story that is rarely told or fully understood. In telling the full story about people and places, it is important to preserve this house as a physical reminder of what Williams achieved and his extraordinary career in architecture.
Until recently the house was marketed for sale, at one point for redevelopment.
By the time he was 25 years old, Williams had met and married his wife, Della Mae Givens. They lived with Williams’ foster mother until purchasing their own home at 1271 West 35th Street, a modest house in the West Adams area of South Los Angeles. The neighborhood was home to a large Black community, in large part because it was free of the racial covenants which blanketed Los Angeles at the time.
In Williams’ 1937 essay, “I Am a Negro,” he wrote:
Today I sketched the preliminary plans for a large country house which will be erected in one of the most beautiful residential districts in the world. Sometimes I have dreamed of living there. I could afford such a home. But this evening, I returned to my own small, inexpensive home... in a comparatively undesirable section of Los Angeles. I must always live in that locality, or in another like it, because...I am a Negro
Despite the fact that he was among the more prominent architects in California, if not the United States, until 1951 he was prevented from designing and living in his own dream home. The vast challenges he overcame and the extraordinary achievements he made during an era of racial injustice has inspired generations of architects.
By 1921, Paul Revere and Della Williams had saved enough money to purchase their own home on East 35th Street in the West Adams neighborhood. The neighborhood was home to a large Black community, in large part because it was free of the restrictive covenants that blanketed most of Los Angeles west of Main Street.
For all of Williams’ success, racial injustice framed his world. He designed mansions in places where he couldn’t live and elegant shops and restaurants where he was unwelcome. In Nevada, where he had many clients, he could not find commercial lodging, food, or office space.
The simple Craftsman style house at 1271 West 35th Street helps tell the important story of architect Paul Revere Williams and should be preserved so that we tell his full story and understand the challenges he overcame.
In August, 2021, the Conservancy submitted a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination for the house to the City's Cultural Heritage Commission to ensure the house is protected. Thank you to Teresa Grimes for preparing the nomination for the Conservancy!
Throughout 2021 the Conservancy explored the many places associated with L.A. architect Paul Revere Williams and his enduring legacy through tours and discussions, through Paul Revere Was Here programming.