Hancock Park is filled with sprawling mansions. And that makes driving through these residential, tree-lined, streets a car slowing, jaw dropping, experience.
The neighborhood owes its residential development to G. Allan Hancock.
According to the Office of Historic Resources, “outstanding architects of the era designed the palatial two-story, single family residences in various Period Revival styles (including Tudor Revival, English Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Monterey Revival, and American Colonial Revival) for influential members of Los Angeles society. The vast majority of the residences are set back 50 feet from the street, as insisted upon by G. Allan Hancock, and include side driveways generally leading though a porte cochere to a rear garage.”
One of those outstanding architects was Paul Revere Williams.
Architect Paul Revere Williams was the man.
While a student at Polytechnic High School he was advised by one of his teachers to give up his dream of becoming an architect because “he would have difficulty attracting clients from the majority white community and the smaller black community could not provide enough work.”
He ignored this advice.
In 1921 Williams became a licensed architect. He opened his own firm in Los Angeles and was the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
He steadily built his practice over time and earned a reputation among the affluent crowd as the go to architect for glamour, charm, and historic flair. According to paulrwilliamsproject.org, “as his reputation grew, his practice expanded to include buildings now considered landmarks: MCA, Saks Fifth Avenue, Palm Springs Tennis Club and Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building. The private residences he designed for leaders in business and entertainment became legendary: actor Bert Lehr, comedians Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, dancer Bill (Bojangles) Robinson, popular entertainer Frank Sinatra and the entrepreneurial Cord and Paley families.”
While the majority Williams’ residential work can be seen Beverly Hills and Hancock Park, there are quite a few in La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Silver Lake, and Palos Verdes.
In contrast to the stately sized residences lining the streets, architect Gregory Ain designed the Beckman House for pharmacist A.O. Beckman and his family.
Focused on modern architecture, Ain was instrumental in bringing this aesthetic to lower and medium-cost housing and became known as the architect for the working man.
Prior to being invited by John Entenza to participate in the Case Study House Program he worked on the Beckman House. A pin-wheel shape with clean lines, and views to the outdoors from every room the home embodies his modernist ideals.