Honoring the Architectural Legacy of Paul Revere Williams in Nevada

Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 6:10 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Highlighting a historical icon with ties in the Silver State. Paul Revere Williams was the first licensed Black Architect to work in the western region of the U.S., designing buildings in the 1920s through the 1970s.

“Black History is the fiber of American history,” Carmen Beals states. She’s the Associate Curator & Outreach Director in Las Vegas. Beals adds, “It goes from neo-classical, to colonial revival and after WW2, you’ll see more of his modern architecture which is also featured in the exhibition.”

She has been working for years to make this exhibit happen. It’s called: “Janna Ireland on the architectural legacy of Paul Revere Williams in Nevada.” You can find it in Reno through the first weekend of October and then it will head down south to Vegas. Ireland uses her lens to capture his many designs, like the Lovelock Inn and Berkley Square, which is Southern Nevada’s first African-American suburban community.

“If you go to the little El Reno Apartments, you can see some of the luxurious elements. Something as small as the little peephole in his house, just to give everyone accessibility to the luxury that everyone wasn’t used to,” Beals tells KOLO 8. That’s right, the original site of El Reno Apartments, which is now a shopping center, The Lear Theatre, and the Ranch House at Rancho San Rafael Park are just a few of Williams’ works you’ve likely visited or driven by in our area.

His contributions have helped shape this region, like the Beverly Hills Hotel and being the Master Designer for Los Angeles International Airport. Beals details the many racial barriers that the one of a kind architect had to face, like working for celebrity clients such as Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball but not being able to own a home near them. “Residential covenants of the time, would not allow him to have a house in that exact same neighborhood. Instead of focusing on pleasing other people, he created some wonderfully innovative techniques such as learning how to draw upside down because at the time he wasn’t allowed to sit by someone of Caucasian descent.”

Beals hopes you’ll tour and bring the younger generation. She says, as it stands now, only five percent of architects in the U.S. are people of color, adding, “All of us are benefitting from his designs, his talent and his innovativeness as a businessman.”

He is a ground-breaking creator, who overcame obstacles in America that tried to hold him back.

The exhibit is on the third floor of the Nevada Museum of Art and is with us until October 2.

You’re invited to a symposium on Saturday July 16, here is the link to register and read more details: https://www.nevadaart.org/event/through-the-lens-honoring-the-architectural-legacy-of-paul-revere-williams/

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