The Architecture of Paul Revere Williams

Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980) is widely recognized as one of the most significant African American architects of the 20th Century. Over five decades, he produced nearly 3,000 designs for buildings ranging from the grandest private mansions for the Hollywood elite to wartime worker housing. His portfolio included hotels, churches, recreational facilities, and more. In 2017, he was posthumously awarded the highest annual honor granted by the American Institute of Architects, the Gold Medal.

Williams was already an established success in 1934 when he was commissioned to design his first structure in the state of Nevada, a private residence on Reno's California Avenue for wealthy southern California transplant Luella Garvey. A second residence for another group of Southern California multi-millionaires soon followed with the 1936 Herman House at the private Rancho San Rafael ranch, now a regional park.

Williams' final two confirmed designs in Reno include the El Reno Apartments, which were constructed from plans authored by Williams in 1936, and the First Church of Christ, Scientist on Riverside Avenue, which opened in 1939. While long credited with designing the Loomis Manor Apartment building on Riverside Avenue, recent scholarship indicates that he was not responsible for its design.

Williams designed several other structures in Nevada in the following decades, including several associated with multi-millionaire E.L. Cord in Dyer and Lovelock, and a variety of projects in the Las Vegas area. This tour will be continuously updated as research into his Nevada work continues.