Henry Hartwell Hester

Architect | 1925-2006
Courtesy of San Diego History Center

Decades after his passing, the career of architect Henry Hester is widely recognized through widely published images by photographer Julius Shulman of projects for Gerald Jerome, Colonel Irving Salomon and Jonathan Edwards to name a few.

Courtesy of San Diego History Center
American Housing Guild Subdivision House by Hester & Jones. This photo by Julius Shulman is © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10).
Hill Residence. Photograph by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
Gleich Residence. Photograph by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
Photograph by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)

With designs for Gerald Jerome, Colonel Irving Salomon and Jonathan Edwards widely published through Julius Shulman’s timeless images, the La Jolla based architect was a private man. Hester reportedly, had the good fortune of a small personal inheritance that allowed him to pick only the clients and projects he felt strongly about. Married twice (Piretta, Nancy) and raising a son and a daughter, Henry Hester retired in the late 1980s from his downtown La Jolla office, leaving his 2nd home on Torrey Pines Road to golf and health in Palm Springs, California.

Henry Hester was born May 30, 1925 in Vinita, Oklahoma to Loraine Burgess Hester (who was part Cherokee) and Alford Vernon Hester. By 1930, the family had moved from Long Beach to San Diego where his father was stationed with the US Navy (at which time the family lived at 4779 Felton). Named after his two grandfathers, young Henry attended Roosevelt Junior High and Brown Military Academy (graduating circa 1942).

After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, Hester met his wife, the notable artist Perrietta Burke, while attending San Diego State College (1945 to 1947) and were married on August 23, 1947. The young couple lived at 3030 Macaulay during this time (circa 1947-1950). Hester graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from USC in 1952 (graduating alongside Francis Ennis and Thornton Ladd among others). According to the San Diego Union Tribune, “I knew him at USC and he was a talent even then,” Hal Sadler said. “He was recognized by a group of USC people who came to San Diego as one of the early standouts in design."

While attending USC (between 1950-52), Mr. Hester worked for Kenneth N. Lind in Los Angeles as a draftsman followed by architect Lloyd Ruocco (circa 1952). He was awarded license number C-1652, to practice architecture by the State of California Architects Board, on November 12, 1953 and immediately established Henry H. Hester, AIA.

Between 1953-56 the office of Henry H. Hester, Architect was housed at 1265 Rosecrans. Beyond his solo work the young architect launched several partnerships - first with Frederick Liebhardt (Hester & Liebhardt ran circa 1953-1956), William F. Cody (as Cody & Hester ca. 1954-57), Ronald K. Davis (ca. 1958-1959) and Robert E. Jones (1962-1965).

Between 1958-1959 Henry H. Hester & Associates Architects was located 3863 N. Harbor Drive before he opened offices at 7906 Girard Avenue and 5056 Harbor Drive as Hester & Davis Architects (Ronald K. Davis joined in late May or early June 1959 according to publicity at the time; and left in 1962 according to Davis himself). Between 1962-1965 Hester, Jones & Associates (Henry H. Hester and fellow USC-grad Robert E. Jones) was at 7863 Herschel Avenue. Remaining at the same address, the name changed to Henry H. Hester & Associates Architects (circa 1965-1966). Between 1967-1968, the firm was renamed Hester & Livingston Architects (Henry H. Hester and Stanley C. Livingston) before returning back to Henry H. Hester Architect (ca. 1969-1986). Roger Zucchat and David Lorimer were associates through the years as well. And according to his obituary, Hester worked alongside Lloyd Ruocco in some capacity. Projects, while mainly focused in the San Diego area, stretched to Denver, Albuquerque, Florida and throughout California.

Over the years he was published in over 30 architectural magazines and three hard cover books noting his status as a significant local architect. His local and national AIA awards are numerous across a wide range of projects. In May, 2006 Henry Hester was profiled by Dwell Magazine regarding the restoration of the Salomon Apartments on 6th Avenue. Refusing to be aligned with the renovation, he felt the alteration of the project was significant enough that is was no longer his work.

Henry Hester’s designs peaked during as Julius Shulman recently stated, “a good period of architecture when San Diego was just beginning to express itself in favor of modernism… in the early years…the International Style was not accepted… Hester and others warmed up the work quite a bit and edited it in a way that clients would accept.”

Henry Hester raced Formula One cars nationally, rode motorcycles in Mexico and held a multi-engine pilot's license throughout his career. He sailed with the Coronado Yacht Club and Isla Del Sol Yacht Club (in St. Petersburg, FL), In addition to his interest in windsurfing, water skiing and dominoes, Hester was a devoted golfer at La Jolla Country Club, Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, and Indian Ridge Country Club (in Palm Desert).

In a September 1983 San Diego Magazine survey of San Diego’s architectural firms, Hester’s office was described as, “In the last seven years Hester has limited his practice to custom residential projects. A solid ‘contemporary architect,’ he says his work runs ‘a broad gamut, from designing houses with limited budgets to designing houses with no budgets at all.’ He also incorporates landscaping and interior work into his practice.”

Henry Hartwell Hester’s architecture license was officially retired on May 31, 1993 and he died on October 31, 2006 in Palm Desert, California at 81 years of age.

Over the course of his career, Hester secured the following awards: 1958 AIA Award of Excellence, Life Magazine article, national recognition for the Gleich Residence; 1960 AIA Award of Merit, Salomon Apartments; 1963 AIA Award of Merit, Del Mar Residence; 1964 AIA Award of Merit, Del Mar Residence; and in 2016 a Lifetime Achievement Honoree, AIA San Diego.

The 2016, Lifetime Achievement Honor, by the American Institute of Architects stated; "Henry H. Hester, AIA lived a remarkable life and had a distinguished career which, over many years, produced a significant body of extraordinary design accomplishments which were honored by AIA design awards on both the national and local levels. Mr. Hester, through his work, had a significant influence in introducing modernism to the San Diego region. His designs were known for their simplicity, clean lines, and unwavering attention to detail. His work is as crisp and timely today as it was at the tie of its construction."

Partial List of San Diego Projects

American Housing Guild Subdivision House (ca. 1960)
Tracts in Linda Vista, San Carlos, and Serra Mesa
*Various models designed by Henry Hester with associates Ronald K. Davis and Robert E. Jones

American Housing Guild Offices (1960)
3247 Mission Village Drive, San Diego
*Attribution through Julius Shulman archive

Apartment Building (1957)
4958 Coronado Avenue, San Diego
*Attribution by Urbana Preservation & Planning, LLC

Apartment Building (1957)
4077 Lamont Street, San Diego
*Attribution by Urbana Preservation & Planning, LLC

Barron Residence (ca. 1955-1957)
6632 Avenida Mañana, La Jolla
*Though attributed to Hester in its Historic Designation Report, unclear what attribution source is.

Borrego Springs Park - Borrego Springs Resort (1963)
Tilting T and Borrego Valley Road, Borrego Springs

Butler Realty/Professional Building (ca. 1960)
1635 Rosecrans, Point Loma
*Designed by Hester & Davis; Attribution through Julius Shulman archive

Casey, McClenahan and Christensen (1961)
110 Laurel Street, Bankers Hill
*Designed by Hester & Davis

Condomium 4-Plex (1961)
404 Bonair Street, La Jolla
406 Bonair Street, La Jolla
408 Bonair Street, La Jolla
410 Bonair Street, La Jolla
*Attribution by real estate listing

Condomium 4-Plex (1985)
3100 Front Street, Unit A, Bankers Hill
3100 Front Street, Unit B, Bankers Hill
3100 Front Street, Unit C, Bankers Hill
3100 Front Street, Unit D, Bankers Hill
*Attribution by real estate listing

Copley House (1987)
7932 Prospect Place, La Jolla

Cornelius Residence (1958)
10385 Bonnie Lane, Mt. Helix
*Attribution by Historic Designation Report

Del Mar Residence (1962)
Location not known, Del Mar
*Designed by Hester, Jones & Associates. Attribution by San Diego AIA Award of Merit (1963)

Del Mar Residence (1963)
Location not known, Del Mar
*Designed by Hester & Jones. Attribution by San Diego AIA Award of Merit (1964)

Detchon, Mr. & Mrs. John A. Residence (1957)
4284 Ibis Street, Mission Hills
*Attribution via September, 1960 issue of San Diego Magazine highlighting the landscape by Joe Yamad; according to family members in 1955 John and Evelyn Detchon hired Hester to design this project and it was completed in 1956.

DiGiorgio Residence (1957)
1533 de Anza Drive, Borrego Springs
*Attribution via Urbana Preservation & Planning, LLC

Edwards, Jonathan Residence (1962)
2701 Bernardo Avenue, Escondido
*Designed by Hester & Davis; Attribution through Julius Shulman archive

El Patio Building (1962)
7946 Ivanhoe Avenue, La Jolla
*Designed by Hester & Davis

Frank Lincoln-Mercury Dealership (1971)
24th Street and National City Boulevard, National City
*Attribution via Urbana Preservation & Planning, LLC

Garden-Type Apartment (1960)
4168 Udall Street
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Gill Apartments (1952)
315 South Virgil Avenue, Los Angeles
*Possibly demolished

Givler Residence (1958)
329 Catarina Drive, Borrego Springs
*Designed by Hester & Davis; attribution via owners

Gleich, Martin L. & Enid Residence (1958)
5120 Norris Road, College Area
*Designed by Hester & Davis. Earned an Award of Excellence, AIA San Diego 1960. Landscape design was by Wimmer & Yamada. Photographs by Julius Shulman were published in Life Magazine (September 29, 1958) and Architectural Record (August 1962)

Golden, Ken Residence
Point Loma

Harkanyi Residence (1973)
9982 Shadow Road, Mt. Helix

Hester, Henry Residence #1 (1956)
1630 Mimulus Way, La Jolla
*Attribution via Architectural Record, August 1962; also attribution through Julius Shulman archive

Hester, Henry Residence #2 (1964)
7145 Fairway Road, La Jolla
*Attribution through Julius Shulman archive

Hester, Henry Residence #3 (1985)
1313 Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla

Hester Apartments (ca. 1960)
3020 Macaulay Street, Point Loma
*Attribution through Julius Shulman archive

Hill, Leslie Residence (1970)
3075 N. Arroyo Drive, San Diego
*Designed by Hester & Livingston; attribution through Julius Shulman archive

Horizon Home Contest Winner (1962)
2726 Angell Avenue, University City
*Attribution through Julius Shulman archive and San Diego Union in late 1962

House Remodel (1961)
1434 Al Bahr Drive, La Jolla
*Attribution through Julius Shulman archive

Hughes, Charlie Residence (1963)
2608 Angell Avenue, University City
*Attribution by original owners of Horizon Home; reportedly based on the Horizon Home design

Jerome, Gerald W. Residence (1961)
7930 Prospect Place, La Jolla
*Designed by Hester, Jones & Associates; published in Architectural Digest in September 1964 as Hester & Davis; in San Diego & Point in April 1961; Western Achitect & Engineer in October, 1961; Sunset in October 1961; and LA Times Home Magazine in December 3, 1961. The Jerome Residence won an Honor Award from the Western Home Awards in 1961.

Johnson, Payne Residence (1962)
664 Rimini Road, Del Mar
*Designed by Hester-Jones & Associates, AIA; Built by Herb Turner; and published in LA Times Home on April 19, 1964

Jones, Robert E. Residence #1 (1962)
2041 Balboa, Del Mar
*Designed by Hester, Jones and Associates. Award of Excellence, AIA San Diego Chapter (1962). Published in Architectural Records' 'Record Houses 1963'. Built by Herb Turner.

La Jolla Real Estate Brokers Association (1965)
908 Kline Street, La Jolla

Martin, Anthony Residence (ca. 1957-59)
Location not known

Maynard Residence (1958)
1001 Avenida Amantea, La Jolla
*Blueprints drawn by Ron Davis

McKean, John Byron Residence (1972)
7405 Hillside Drive, La Jolla
*Attribution by owners

Mission Trails Golf Course Clubhouse
7380 Golfcrest Place, San Carlos

Mueller, Carl Residence (1956)
3516 Carleton Street, Point Loma
*Designed by Cody & Hester; On March 23, 1958 The San Diego Union referred to this home as "...the new home for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Price..."

Mueller Tuckett Offices (circa 1960)
3442-3444 Hancock Street, Point Loma

Palmer Hughes Office Building (1962)
7863 Herschel Avenue, La Jolla
*Designed by Hester, Jones & Associates

Pearson Ford (ca. 1966)
Fairmount & El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Peckham, Residence for Mr. and Mrs. (ca. 1955)
2914 McCall Street, Point Loma
*Designed by Cody & Hester

Private Residence (1960)
7525 Miramar Avenue, La Jolla

Private Residence (1960)
10058 Mozelle Lane, La Mesa
*Attribution to Hester & Davis by Leonard Smith's archive via La Mesa Historical Society. This may have been a spec house with Carl Mueller.

Private Residence (ca. 1955)
1532 Copa de Oro Drive, La Jolla
*Attribution via 11/11/60 San Diego Union advertisement; possiby a spec home

Private Residence (ca. 1955)
1602 Mimulus Way, La Jolla

Private Residence (ca. 1958)
4567 North Lane, Del Mar
*Attribution from real estate listing

Private Residence (1967)
1532 Virginia Way, La Jolla
*Attribution by real estate listing

Private Residence (ca. 1985)
7863 E. Roseland Drive, La Jolla

Private Residence (1986)
1585 Coast Walk, La Jolla

Private Residence (1964)
7363 Fairway, La Jolla

Private Residence (1959)
5908 La Jolla Corona Drive, San Diego
*Attribution via 9/20/59 San Diego Union advertisement; possibly a spec home with Mueller-Tuckett, Inc.

Private Residence (1962)
1630 Valdes Drive, La Jolla
*Attributed to Henry Hester by real estate professional

Private Residence (1957)
3506 Carleton, Point Loma
*Attribution via 1957 real estate advertisements, this may have been a spec house with Carl Mueller. Second story added by second owner.

Private Residence (1958)
3503 Dickens, Point Loma
*Attributed by owner of 3506 Carleton; heavily altered

Private Residence (1960)
5820 Ravenswood Road, La Jolla
*Attribution via 3/18/60 San Diego Union advertisement

PSA Building (1968)
San Diego Airport, San Diego
*Designed by Hester & Livingstone

Renshaw Residence (1958)
4519 South Lane, Del Mar

Residence for La Jolla Highlands (1961)
8841 Nottingham Place, La Jolla
*Designed by Hester & Davis

Rippe, Herbert Residence (ca. 1959-1960)
This 'Town House in the Country' was possibly located in Rancho Santa Fe
*Published in the June 5, 1960 issue of LA Times Home Magazine where it was noted that the house was designed by Hester & Davis; built by Mueller-Tuckett; and interior designed by Gerald Jerome. Also published in the LA Times on March 26, 1961

Rodriguez Apartments (1966-68)
201 Bonair Street, La Jolla
*Now a 5-unit condominium complex

Royal Neighbors of America Headquarters, San Diego Enid Camp 107 (1956)
3855 Wabash Avenue, City Heights
*Attribution via Urbana Preservation & Planning, LLC

Salomon Apartments (1959)
3200 6th Avenue, Bankers Hill
*Designed by Hester & Davis; earned an Award of Merit, AIA San Diego 1960

Schwartz, Lyn Residence (1959)
5483 Drover, College Area
*Designed by Hester & Davis; attribution via Lyn Schwartz

Shishido, Ralph & Margaret Residence (1973)
1771 Colgate Circle, La Jolla

Silberman, Mr. & Mrs. Richard Residence (1956-59)
4021 Miller Street, Mission Hills
*Designed by Cody, Hester and Davis

Solomon, Herbert Residence (1964)
6827 Elaine Way, Del Cerro
*Designed by Hester-Jones and Associates; attribution through Julius Shulman archive

Spec House (1962)
North Lane on the right (south) side of the street, Solana Beach
*Designed by Hester & Davis

Stetler Residence (1962)
910 Glorietta Boulevard, Coronado
*Attribution via Urbana Preservation & Planning, LLC; Remodeled

Taylor, Dr. Philip and Marian Taylor Residence (1956)
4925 Resmar Road, La Mesa
*Designed by Cody & Hester

Whitcomb, Kay House (ca. 1955)
1631 Mimulus Way, La Jolla