The Archive of One of Los Angeles’ Most Important African-American Architects Finds a New Home

The extensive collection was thought to be lost in a building fire.

Considered one of the most prolific architects of mid-century Los Angeles, Paul R. Williams was the first licensed architect in California, the first African American to become a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the first to receive the AIA Gold Medal. During his career, he created homes for celebrities, designed the Beverly Hills Hotel logo and turned a Woolworth’s building into The Broadway Federal Savings & Loan near Historic South Central and South Park. When a fire started during the 1992 riots burned down that bank, much of his architectural legacy was believed to be lost … until now.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “It turns out that the blaze that destroyed the Broadway Federal Savings & Loan didn’t, as has long been reported, erase Williams’ legacy. While some of his business records were indeed lost in that fire, most of the architect’s thousands of original drawings were safe at another location.

“Which means that there is a Paul R. Williams archive—and it contains approximately 35,000 architectural plans, 10,000 original drawings, in addition to blueprints, hand-colored renderings, vintage photographs and correspondence.”

The Getty Research Institute (GRI) and USC’s School of Architecture recently announced a joint acquisition from Williams’ granddaughter Karen Elyse Hudson, who has long served as the principal steward of Williams’ work.

You can read more about this accomplished native Angeleno here.

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