Paul R. Williams

On February 18, 1894, Paul Revere Williams was born to Chester and Lila Williams.  The family had recently relocated from Memphis to Los Angeles.  By the time that Paul had turned two years old, Chester had suffered and passed away from tuberculosis; Lila, battling the same illness, would pass away two years later.  At the age of four years old, Paul and his older brother, Chester, Jr. would be sent to live in different foster homes.

Paul was sent to the home of C.D. and Emily Clarkson, who were highly supportive, educationally and, later, artistically, of him.  He was the only African-American in his elementary school, but was exposed to a culturally ethnic population when he matriculated Polytechnic High School.  His love of art and drawing prompted a Clarkson family friend, who was involved in construction, to suggest that Williams also study geometry and physics in order to become involved in architecture.  Others, however, including a guidance counselor at his high school, discouraged him from that profession simply based upon his race.

For greater enlightenment...

For further enlightenment:

Books by Paul R. Williams

Small Home of Tomorrow

New Homes for Today


Other readings

Paul R. Williams, Architect: A Legacy of Style  by Karen E. Hudson

Paul R. Williams: Classic Hollywood Style by Karen E. Hudson

The Will and the Way: Paul R. Williams, Architect by Karen E. Hudson


The Paul R. Williams Project – The Memphis chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Art Museum of the University of Memphis collaboration


The Association of Black Women in Architecture


Black Women in Architecture


Symposium: Shifting the Landscape: Black Architects and Planners, 1968 to Now Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, September 27-29, 2018



The Directory of African American Architects


The National Organization of Minority Architects