William Woollett Biography

William Woollett




William Woollett, painter, printmaker, draftsman, and architect, was born in Albany, New York on 20 February 1901. He grew up in Berkeley, California and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was fourteen years of age. He graduated from Hollywood High School and enrolled in the University of Minnesota where he studied architecture. Woollett then studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York City and he became a fourth-generation architect.

When he returned to Los Angeles in 1923, Woollett found little demand for his architectural skills so he began recording in drawings the buildings and sites around Los Angeles as a means of preserving the legacy of California. His book, California's Golden Age, features drawings of Olvera Street, the Pico House, the Hollywood Bowl, the Pilgrimage Play Theater, La Brea Adobe, La Brea Tar Pits, the Griffith Observatory, and the Pasadena Bridge spanning the Arroyo Seco. During the Depression, he recorded in drawing, etching, and lithography, the engineering marvels of the 1930s: the building of the Hoover Dam, the building of the All-American Canal, and the building of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the building of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

In the mid 1940s, a building boom began to house the soldiers returning from the war in Europe and Woollett returned to his architectural practice. His earlier work recording the historic sites of Southern California prompted him to work with Carl Dentzel to help draw up Los Angeles' first Historic Preservation Ordinance.

Woollett was a member of the California Society of Etchers, the Santa Barbara Art Association, the California Art Club, the American Institute of Architecture, and he was co-founder of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board. His work was included in the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935 and that year his lithographs of the building of the Hoover Dam were exhibited at the National Gallery in Washington.

William Woollett died in Santa Barbara, California on October 13, 1988.