Born in 1894, Paul practiced largely in Southern California and designed the homes of numerous stars including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz,Lon Chaney, and Charles Correll. He also designed many public and private buildings.
Williams won an architectural competition at age 25 and three years later opened his own office. Known as an outstanding draftsman, he perfected the skill of rendering drawings "upside down." This skill was developed so that his clients (who may have been uncomfortable sitting next to a black architect) could see the drawings rendered right side up across the table from him. Struggling to gain attention, he served on the first Los Angeles City Planning Commission in 1920. From 1921 through 1924 Williams worked for Los Angeles architect John C. Austin, eventually becoming chief draftsman, before establishing his own office. Williams became the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923. In 1939, he won the AIA Award of Merit for his design of the MCA Building in Los Angeles (now headquarters of the Paradigm Talent Agency).
Some of his famous work:
"If I allow the fact that I am a Negro to checkmate my will to do, now, I will inevitably form the habit of being defeated."