William Hackett Paynter was born in 1924 in Bakersfield. A native son of the city, he attended Kern County Union High School and was an architectural pupil of Clarence Cullimore (AIA Membership File for William Paynter). Paynter served in the Army Air Corps during World War II prior to beginning his college education (“Center New Landmark in Bakersfield,” Bakersfield Californian, June 29, 1963). After attending and graduating from University of Southern California in 1951, he apprenticed for Ernest McCoy and Robert Eddy, two prominent midcentury Bakersfield architects. In 1954, Paynter became partners with Robert Eddy in the firm of Robert N. Eddy & Associates (AIA Membership File for William Paynter). By the 1960s, the duo had become Eddy & Paynter (1962 AIA Directory). Paynter and his wife were very much involved in community and civic activities, especially Mrs. Paynter, who was an energetic volunteer and clubwoman.
The 1962 AIA directory lists the following buildings as part of Paynter’s portfolio: the Kern County Union High School District Administration Building (1955), Kern County Health Center (1960), Pacific Greyhound terminal (1960), Porterville Union High School (1959), and a Park District High School building (1961). The directory also notes that Paynter was a member of the Kern County Planning Commission since 1960. He was elected as the chairman of the commission in 1965 (“Wm. Paynter Heads County Planners,” Bakersfield Californian, January 6, 1965).
The firm of Eddy & Paynter designed the federal courthouse on Truxton Avenue, the site of the former Kern County jail (“Firm Sets Low Bid,” Bakersfield Californian, May 16, 1963). Other public buildings Eddy & Paynter designed included the Delano branch of the Kern County Library system in 1966 (“No title,” Bakersfield Californian, March 3, 1966).
Paynter also designed the occasional residence in the post-earthquake boom of Bakersfield, including the Ray Jones residence in the Stockdale neighborhood (“Ray Jones Home Charming Result of Careful Plan,” Bakersfield Californian, April 13, 1957) and the ranch style Pelletier residence in Stockdale in 1957 with Eddy (“Ranch Home Built for Valley Living at Finest,” Bakersfield Californian, October 12, 1957). With these two residences, Paynter embraced the open plan aesthetic and orientation towards home entertaining that was in vogue in this postwar era, both indoor and outdoor.