Paul Revere Williams’ Guardian Angel Cathedral, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1963, 2021, chromogenic print
Nevada Museum of Art, The Neon Museum, Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas and Nevada Preservation Foundation have joined forces to illuminate the trailblazing work and legacy of the first licensed African American architect in the western United States, Paul Revere Williams (1894 – 1980). A proclamation from the Office of the Governor officially recognizes February 18 as “Paul Revere Williams Day” in Nevada. This day additionally celebrates the birthday of Williams.
Paul Revere Williams portrait
Known as the “Architect of the Stars,” Williams was also the first black recipient of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal award and worked on the making of more than 3,000 buildings. The pioneering black architect has a commemorable portfolio, which showcase his notable creations within Las Vegas including the Guardian Angel Cathedral, Berkley Square/Highlands Square and the La Concha Motel whose lobby is now the The Neon Museum's visitor center.
Paul Revere Williams’ La Concha Motel, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1961, 2022, chromogenic print
“The Neon Museum is proud to partner with the Nevada Museum of Art, the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas and the Nevada Preservation Foundation to continue to bring to light the rich history and untold stories of our region," says Aaron Berger, Director of The Neon Museum. "As the steward of one of the most recognizable and notable designs by Williams, we are honored to invite our community to engage with and find inspiration in the work of Paul R. Williams,” Berger mentions.
After the February 18 proclamation, guests are invited to attend The Neon Museum's STEAM Saturday ceremony with special interactive activities including a scavenger hunt, building stations and a reading corner. Enjoy photography of architecture and admire the distinguished La Concha Lobby Williams designed.
The glorious La Concho Motel was once a hot spot for a host of celebrity figures such as Elizabeth Taylor, Ronald Reagan, Elvis, Ann-Margret, Wayne Newton, the Carpenters and Flip Wilson. Additionally, attendees are able to participate in crafting their own dream home blueprints, drawing creative inspiration from the style of Williams.
“Our collective organizations share a commitment to highlighting the stories of under-recognized individuals as well as a passion for Paul Revere Williams’ contributions to the fabric of Las Vegas architecture,” says Berger. He continues, “February 18, Williams’ birthday, is a day to honor a torchbearer who advanced our society through his work and perseverance. This proclamation will credit Williams’ accomplishments and serve as an inspiration for generations to come.”
Paul Revere Williams’ Luella Garvey Residence, Reno, Nevada, 1934, 2021, chromogenic print
Further explore the creative influence of Williams through Janna Ireland’s photographic exhibition Janna Ireland on the Architectural Legacy of Paul Revere Williams in Nevada presented by the Nevada Museum of Art. Ireland captures the breath of Williams’ artistry through a contemporary fine arts and intimately poetic perspective.
The man behind some of the most historically significant landmarks in Las Vegas is now officially honored and celebrated on February 18th. The many architectural achievements and outstanding career of Williams are to be appreciated and brought to light through this dedicated day.
Photography by: Courtesy of of the Nevada Museum of ; By Janna Ireland; By Janna Ireland with permission from The Neon
Museum, Las Vegas