“Imagination is the secret power behind every new invention…Simple inventions that are easy to produce are usually the best sellers. If I were young today I would start with the need for the development of the small house … What the world needs today is a new concept for a substantial, economical house…Solve this and the world is your market.
Paul R. Williams’ essay If I Were Young Today Ebony. August 1963
Early in his career Paul Williams entered a series of competitions for the design of small houses. The judges often singled out his entries for praise and as a young architect he developed a reputation as a small house specialist. Within ten years, however, his practice was focusing on large-scale commercial and residential projects. Though he is now associated with the design of mansions and estates for the rich and famous, Williams never forgot the small homeowner.
In response to a nation-wide shortage of affordable housing for returning WWII veterans, the Los Angles Times ran a series of columns, Construction Primer, encouraging new homeowners to educate themselves before embarking on building a house. The newspaper estimated that each year 50,000+ “dwelling units” would be needed in Los Angeles County alone. (Los Angeles Times. January 14, 1945) To inform these inexperienced, first-time homeowners and fill a need for accessible information, Williams published guides for small homes with simple plans, renderings and outlines of basic architectural principles: The Small House of Tomorrow and New Homes for Today (1945 and 1946). In these books Williams encouraged potential homeowners to be “active” participants in both the design and building process for their own homes.
While these books give interesting insights into Williams’ philosophy, few known single-family private homes were built in the Los Angeles area using these principles. An exception is Manuel and Anna Glickman’s house in Los Feliz. (Discover Hollywood. Winter, 2010) Their residence typifies the one-story California-style residence popular in the late 1930s through the 1940s."The plan is well organized for use, with a compact arrangement of rooms ... and a good relation between the house and outdoor living space."(The 1938 Book of Small Houses: By the Editors of The Architectural Forum)
Manuel, a Russian immigrant with little formal education, worked diligently to establish his successful meat and grocery store in the Los Feliz area. (Eventually the business would grow into a large Los Angeles produce company.) In 1946 Paul R. Williams designed a six-room family home for him on West Gainsborough Avenue. Acting as his own contractor Glickman built the house for $17,600, a relatively large sum in the 1940s. (B.P. 20746 6/3/46) The exterior of the wood and stucco Colonial style home remains unchanged except for new paint colors.