Known as “architect to the stars” Williams (1894-1980) was one of the city’s most successful and popular designers, building impressive homes, commerical and public buildings throughout Southern California. In 1951 Williams designed a 4,400 square foot home at 1690 S. Victoria for his own immediate family An African-American, Williams built in Lafayette Square after the former racial deed restrictions had been rendered illegal and the area became a popular neighborhood for prominent blacks.
Mid-century modern elements of the home are the clean horizontal lines, indoor-outdoor living spaces, wide lawn, and integration of natural elements. Located at the entrance to Lafayette Square, the home still stands out as a stunning, yet quintessentially charming California property. The City designated the house as L.A. Cultural Monument #170 in 1976.
A local boy, Williams graduated from the LA. School of Art and Design, the L.A. branch of the New York Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, and USC’s School of Engineering. He married in 1917 at the First AME church and had three children. His grand-daughter Karen Hudson lives in a Williams-designed home adjacent to the original Victoria Street family home, and is a noted author and curator of her grandfather’s estate.
Most of Williams’ 2,000 private home designs were in Beverly Hills or the Mid-Wilshire area. Working in a broad range of styles, he was the ‘go-to guy’ for celebrity residences for many years, Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Lon Chaney, Tyrone Power, Danny Thomas, Barbara Stanwyck, etc. Williams’ commissions and awards are too numerous to name, the last being a post-humus Donald Trump award. Angelenos cannot drive very far without bumping into a Williams commission: the Hollywood YMCA, Saks Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills (1940), Golden State Mutual Life (1948), Beverly Hills Hotel and Perino’s Restaurant (alterations of existing buildings), L.A. Superior Court and Hall of Administration , LAX Theme Building (1961), and the First AME Church (1963), to cite but a few. He also designed the Midtown branch of the Broadway Federal Bank at 4835 W.Venice Blvd. in Mid-City and was a Board Member.
The prodigious Williams was the first African-American to be admitted to the AIA. Williams’ wife, Della Mae Williams (died 1996),co-founded the first African-American Women’s Club to have its own building in L.A, located at 3435 W. Adams.