Ronald Keith Davis

Architect | 1928-2010
La Jolla Light August 25, 1960

Upon arriving back in his hometown of San Diego, following his graduation from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Ron Davis worked for several architects before he, in 1959, set up his own firm - for which he worked retiring in 2008.

La Jolla Light August 25, 1960
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).

Ronald Davis was born on March 3, 1928 in San Bernardino to Sam H. and Jessie B. Davis. He was raised in his parents’ home at 34th and El Cajon. Davis reportedly grew up in a poor household, working often as a lifeguard at Old Mission Beach. Ron and his sisters Phyllis and Sally attended Jefferson Elementary, Roosevelt Junior High and San Diego High School.

Born on March 3, 1928 in San Bernardino to Sam H. and Jessie B. Davis, Ronald K. Davis was raised in his parents’ home in North Park (some references state the family home was located at 34th and El Cajon, while others state Mississippi Street). Davis reportedly grew up in a poor household, working often as a lifeguard at Old Mission Beach. Ron and his sisters Phyllis and Sally attended Jefferson Elementary, Roosevelt Junior High and San Diego High School.

One of Ron's favorite stories was how on December 7, 1941 he and his buddy Ned mounted their bikes and rushed to the San Diego waterfront with .22 caliber rifles in case the Japanese entered the harbor. With no enemy invasion, they biked to Silver Castle Hamburger on University Avenue, bought a dozen hamburgers for $1, and went on to Balboa Stadium to watch the Bombers football team play Los Angeles.

Following high school graduation, Ronald worked for a defense contractor delivering war material to North Island and briefly attended San Diego Junior College before serving in the US Navy (1946-48). In 1950, Davis married his wife June B. Smith.

After leaving the Navy, Davis attend California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) where he studied Architectural Engineering under George J. Hasslein, FAIA. With the GI Bill affording him a low tuition and stipend, he spent three years in San Luis Obispo with his wife and their first child. Already skilled at drawing upon his arrival, he learned “to find the feeling” of a building design and interpreted “the feeling” in his sketches until he understood the design was right.

Following graduation, in 1953, like his contemporary Homer Delawie, Davis left San Luis Obispo for San Diego, drawn to the city’s burgeoning interest in modernist architecture. Davis intended to help re-shape the growing community with quality design.

For any young architecture school graduate, there was little work to be had in San Diego. Someone like Ron Davis would have hoped to work for one of the larger firms in town – which at the time were run by either Frank L. Hope or Richard George Wheeler. Upon arriving back in San Diego, Davis worked as a draftsman for William P. Lodge at 6th & C (1953-54) for which he was paid $1.50/hour. Next, he joined Walter Chester See’s firm on Park Boulevard with four other recent architecture school graduates.

Davis reported working in the office of Henry H. Hester, Architect as early as 1953 -- on projects under various office names and partnerships including with Frederick Liebhardt, Fred Norris and William F. Cody. Working initially from an office at 1265 Rosecrans, Davis served Hester & Liebhardt (ca. 1953-56) and Cody & Hester (ca. 1954-57). He later recalled that Homer Delawie applied for work with Hester during this same time period (ca. 1956). Also having graduated from Hasslein’s school, Delawie threatened Davis’ role in the Hester office. Instead, Davis’ fellow Cal Poly grad found work elsewhere with Lloyd Ruocco. Davis started working for Henry H. Hester & Associates Architects located 3863 N. Harbor Drive in 1958-1959. He joined as partners in Hester and Davis, Architects with offices located in Palmer Hughes’ 4 Arcade Building on Girard Avenue in La Jolla, and at 5056 Harbor Drive in late May or early June 1959 according to publicity at the time; and left in 1962 according to Davis. After helping Hester with the design of the Cornelius Residence, Solomon Residence and the Salomon Apartment Building among others, Davis was let go. Henry Hester reportedly heard on the golf course that Davis’ moonlighting with his own architecture work was growing successful.

Davis took on his first partner, William G. Moises, to form Davis & Moises, AIA (ca. 1959-63). The two worked together at 4699 Hamilton Street when Moises left to work for Frank L. Hope. The office of Ronald K. Davis was established as a solo practice in 1963. Davis later recalled “…getting clients in the early days was easy. We didn’t advertise and our fees were cheap.”

In 1980, Davis partnered with his son Mark to form Davis & Davis, AIA. He retired in 2008.

Partial List of Projects

American Assets Building (1974)
2565 Camino Del Rio South, Mission Valley

American Housing Guild Offices (ca. 1960)
3247 Mission Village Drive
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Apartments (1969)
4131 Maryland Street

Brunner, James & Mary Residence (ca. 1968)
6457 Elmhurst Drive, Del Cerro
*Original house built circa 1968; damaged in fire on December 24, 1974 and rebuilt thereafter

Butler Realty (1960)
1635 Rosecrans, Point Loma
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Butterfield Estates Home (1960)
5820 Ravenswood Road
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Casey, Mclenahan and Christensen (1960)
110 Laurel Street, Hillcrest
*Hester & Davis, AIA; remodeled

Cedar Shores Apartments (1971)
2150 Pacific Beach Drive, Pacific Beach

Cornelius Residence (1958)
10385 Bonnie Lane, Mt. Helix
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Chargers Training Facility (1970)

Crystal Tower (1969)
Lake Tahoe, California

Davis, Ronald K. Residence (1960)
5371 Wilshire Drive, Normal Heights

Edwards, Jonathan Residence (1962)
2701 Bernardo Avenue, Escondido
*Hester & Davis, AIA

El Patio Building (1960)
7944 Ivanhoe Avenue, La Jolla
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Four-story Medical Center (1965)
Southwest corner of Fay Avenue and Silverado, La Jolla
*Davis & Moises, Architects

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

Givler Residence (1958)
329 Catarina Drive, Borrego Springs
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Gleich, Martin L. & Enid Residence (1958)
5120 Norris Road, Alvarado Estates
*Hester & Davis, AIA; Award of Excellence, AIA San Diego 1960

Harbor Crest Community (1965)
Mt. Soledad, La Jolla
*Davis & Moises, Architects

Harbor View Plaza (1983)
2535 Kettner Boulevard, San diego
*Davis and Davis, Architects

Hilmen & Hilmen Professional Building (1971)
San Diego

Jackson, David and Susan Residence (1964)
3455 Charles Street
*Designated historic in 2017; possibly Davis & Moises, Architects (permit says Davis & Davis)

Jenkins Apartments (1970)
220 Orange Avenue, Coronado

Jolly Ox Restaurant (1968)
Camino Del Rio, Mission Valley

Le Baron Hotel (1969)
500 N. Hotel Circle, Mission Valley

Le Baron Hotel (1969)
Burlingame, California

Lehman, Peter Residence (1971)
5781 Rutgers Road

Maggio Residence (1968-70)
3575 Via Flores, Point Loma

Marine Medical Building (1968-69)
7302 Girard, La Jolla

Medical Clinic (1978)
2222 Coronado Avenue, Imperial Beach

Mueller Tuckett Offices (1965)
3442-3444 Hancock Street
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Mueller, Carl Residence (1956)
3516 Carleton Street, Point Loma
*Cody & Hester

Nicholas Apartments (1969)
4046 First Avenue

Oakcrest Apartments (1980)
4041 Oakcrest Drive
*Davis and Davis, Architects

Oakhill Residence (1964)
San Carlos West
*Davis & Moises, Architects

Private Residence (Cottage)
Point Loma

Private Residence (1960)
10058 Mozelle Lane, La Mesa
*Attribution to Hester & Davis by Leonard Smith's archive via La Mesa Historical Society

Private Residence
Mimulus Way, La Jolla
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Private Residence (1965)
6337 Dwane Avenue

Prudential Insurance Company Building (1963)
4455 Lamont Street
*Davis & Moises, Architects

Ridgeview Aprtments (1972)
1333 East Grand Avenue, Escondido

Royal Neighbors of America Headquarters, San Diego Enid Camp 107 (1956)
3855 Wabash Avenue
*This attribution is not clear on its designer - possibly with Hester

Salomon Apartments (1959)
3200 6th Avenue
*Hester & Davis, AIA; Award of Merit, AIA San Diego 1960

San Marin Planned Community House Designs including 'The Tamarack' (1964)
Novato, California
*Davis & Moises, Architects

Sayer Residence Remodel
545 Elijo Street

Schwartz, Lynn Residence
5483 Drover, San Diego
*Hester & Davis, AIA

Silberman, Richard (1959)
4021 Miller Street, Mission Hills
*Cody & Hester

Smith, Edie Residence (1957)
9101 Wakarusa, La Mesa

Solomon, Herbert Residence (1964)
6827 Elaine Way, Del Cerro
*Hester & Davis, AIA

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

Willford Financial Center (1968)
4350 Palm Avenue, La Mesa