When the Hotel Somerville was built, Beverly Hills, the former Rancho Rodeo de Aguas, owned by the Afro-Californio Maria Rita Valdez, was relatively undeveloped. But the Beverly Hilton Hotel was built on the hope that the new stars of Hollywood would flock there.
Paul Revere Williams undertook a remodeling of the nine-story building from 1946 to 1957 that added a ballroom and the Copa Club. Williams was the first licensed black architect in California who gained a reputation as "architect to the stars " in Hollywood. One of those stars, Danny Thomas, had Williams design the original building for St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis. Williams also collaborated on many of the classroom and dorm buildings of Howard University in Washington, D.C.