Paul Revere Williams House
UPDATE: On September 2, 2021 the L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) reviewed the Conservancy's pending Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination for this house. Through a unanimous vote, the CHC agreed to take the nomination under consideration. A site visit will take place with the CHC soon and another hearing will be scheduled in the coming months.
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.
The house is currently for sale and marketed 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.
The Paul Revere Williams House at house at 1271 West 35th Street is currently for sale and potentially threatened with demolition. We need your help to preserve this important property and have it listed as a local historic landmark.
Community support for the designation is growing by the day!
FIRST: Speak in support of the Paul Revere Williams House at the next virtual Cultural Heritage Commission meeting, likely to be scheduled for early Fall, 2021. Meeting details to be posted as soon as they are available.
SECOND: Submit written comments in support of the nomination. Email should be sent to: Cultural Heritage Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Councilmember District 8, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson (c/o email@example.com), cc Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy so we may track support (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please include in the subject line: Support Paul Revere Williams House Historic-Cultural Monument.