The Elegant Vision of L.A. Architect Paul R. Williams
A TRUE TALE WITH
A CHERRY ON TOP
Alfred A. Knopf
(pub.9.27.2022) 48 pages
Author: Andrea J. Loney
Character: Paul R. Williams
" As an orphaned Black boy growing up in America in the early 1900s, Paul R. Williams became obsessed by the concept of 'home.' He not only dreamed of building his own home, he turned his dreams into drawings. Defying the odds and breaking down the wall of racism, Williams was able to curve around the obstacles in his way to become a world-renowned architect. He designed homes for the biggest celebrities of the day, such as Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball, and created a number of buildings in Los Angeles that are now considered landmarks."
"The Beverly Hills Hotel even hires Paul to redesign the Polo Lounge and the Fountain Coffee Room. Once the paint dries, Paul could marvel at his signature achievement - the building sign is even printed in his own distinctive handwriting. But could Paul stop by for a milkshake with Della or their daughters?
Once again, Paul can enter the building as the architect, but not as a Black person.
No matter how high Paul rises, the stone wall of racism grinds against his face."
And something more: Andrea J. Loney, in the Author's Note explains: "While researching this book, I checked the history of our own home, built in 1924 in the L.A. County city of Inglewood. The original deed says only 'Caucasians,' or white people, can live here. So back then, I wouldn't have been allowed to sit at this desk, where I'm writing these words right now, simply because I'm a Black person. What a chilling thought!
... Of course, Paul R. William was keenly aware of these injustices. But he loved his work. He loved seeing his dreams come true. And when racism blocked his path, he found ingenious ways to curve and flow around it as he focused on this goal of making a better Los Angeles for everyone."