LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It’s Black History Month, and 8 news now is recognizing influential Black men and women who helped shape the design of our city.

Reporter Kate Houston shows the story behind the “Guardian Angel Cathedral” on Desert Inn and Las Vegas Boulevard and its trailblazing architect Paul Revere Williams.

For decades, the Guardian Angel Cathedral has stood as a striking contrast to the evolving las vegas strip–and the modern resorts that tower over it.

“For a city that is renowned for building and imploding, building and imploding, and then all of a sudden you have this. It is still beautiful today as it was then,” Sarah Hulme, Manager of Photo Collection, Nevada State Museum Las Vegas.

Paul Revere Williams built the cathedral in 1963 to give strip workers an easier way to go to mass.

It’s unique a-frame design has drawn in both locals and tourists.

“He was very considerate about the client, and what they were using the building for. How could it be practical but beautiful at the same time,” added Hulme.

Williams’ career was taking off during a time of segregation and racism – which impacted the way he worked.

He learned how to sketch upside down, knowing some clients would not want to sit near him.

Despite these challenges, he persevered, going on to design more than two thousand buildings, including mansions for celebrities, and local hotels.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

“He was a very proud, and a very focused man, but very much aware of his clients, aware of the requirements, and wanting to make a difference of how people lived,” said Hulme.

For nearly 60 years, the cathedral has been home to countless weddings, baptisms, and life events – all a part of the legacy Williams leaves behind.

8 News Now is also highlighting local African Americans who inspire others in our community. You can watch our special Sunday, Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m.