Architect to Early Hollywood Luminaries
June 11, 2017 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Paul Revere Williams designed over 3000 buildings in 1920s-30s Hollywood. The website for the Paul Revere Williams Project has researched many of these buildings and has an ongoing gallery thumbnails with links. Research is still underway and the project is still looking for info on his work.
posted by MovableBookLady (8 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
99% Invisible also had a great episode on Williams a while back.
posted by not_the_water at 8:41 PM on June 11, 2017 [11 favorites]

As an architect, well wow ... that is some production. Very glad he's finally getting some recognition! Also, the 99% Invisible episode linked to by not_the_water is good listening.
posted by Ravneson at 10:10 PM on June 11, 2017

We visited the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, which is headquartered in part of the building that used to be La Concha Motel (different site though, the building was moved). I'm glad to see the effort to catalog his work.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:02 PM on June 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

So I learned in the 99% Invisible episode that the reason this project is necessary is that all of Williams's papers were destroyed in the L.A. Riots in 1992. His papers were stored in a room in a bank that was owned by members of his family, and the bank burned down. So while his firm kept records of all the buildings he designed, now the only way to get a list is to crowdsource it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:05 AM on June 12, 2017

Here's an episode of Visiting...With Huell Howser on the Long Beach Naval Station and plans to level it. The station featured lots of residential and administrative buildings designed by Williams. Discussion of Williams starts at about 8:00.

(Huell is charming, too.)
posted by notyou at 7:36 AM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

His buildings seem to epitomize the Hollywood style I absorbed from afar as a Canadian growing up over the past few decades. Never really thought about where it came from, that there were individuals behind it. What a talent!
posted by mantecol at 8:11 AM on June 12, 2017


His 1937 essay, I Am A Negro is available in a reprint in Ebony.

Something that's interesting about his career is how much of a rehabilitation it's had: Contemporarily, he was regularly derided as being corny and tacky, especially for his celeb houses that had a mishmosh of revival styles, and an emphasis on interiors over facades. I ran across him several years ago in a paper about LA's segregated housing development, though I don't recall if he worked on any project housing here — I know he did the first one to allow African-Americans back in DC, but I think in LA it was someone who had worked for him and had more interest in modular homes. Could be wrong on that, though.
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 AM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Growing up as an aspiring archetect in LA, Wiliiams was such a huge presence. He's so prolific that on any given day a Paul Wiliiams home is featured on Curbed LA, the front of the LAT real estate section, or the glossy cover of high-end RE magazines.

It's really hard to spend any time in LA -- I mean in hours, like running errands or commuting -- without seeing a landmark Williams building. What a tragedy that so much was lost during the riots.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:27 AM on June 13, 2017

« Older The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the...   |   Does what it says on the cover Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments