Henry Hartwell Hester (1925-2006)
Though his designs for Gerald Jerome, Colonel Irving Salomon and Jonathan Edwards were widely published through Julius Shulman’s timeless images, the La Jolla based architect was a private man. 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. Named after his two grandfathers, young Henry attended Roosevelt Junior High and Brown Military Academy in San Diego then San Diego State College (1945-47). He secured his BS in Architecture from USC in 1952. 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."
Between 1950-52, Mr. Hester worked for Kenneth N. Lind as a draftsman. He worked for Lloyd Ruocco (ca. 1952) before establishing Henry H. Hester, AIA in 1954 upon moving to La Jolla. Designing two homes for himself (also photographed by Shulman) in addition to a wide array of residential and commercial commissions, Hester had the good fortune of a small personal inheritance that allowed him to pick only the clients and projects he felt strongly about.
Through the years, Henry Hester would join in partnership with Frederick Liebhardt (ca. 1957), Ronald K. Davis (ca. 1958-60 as Hester & Davis), William F. Cody (ca. 1958-1960 as Cody & Hester), fellow USC-grad Robert E. Jones (ca. 1960-67 as Hester & Jones and Hester, Jones & Associates), with Stanley Livingstone (as Hester & Livingstone) as well as Roger Zucchat and David Lorimer. 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).
Among the few articles on Henry Hester, the September 1983 San Diego Magazine review of San Diego’s architectural firms included a very brief description of his firm: “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.”
Partial List of San Diego Projects
Guild Offices (1960)
Apartment Building (ca.
Springs Park - Borrego Springs Resort (1963)
Building (ca. 1960)
and Christensen (1961)
Del Mar Residence
Del Mar Residence
Detchon, Mr & Mrs
John A. Residence
El Patio Building
Golden, Ken Residence
Henry Residence #1 (1956)
Residence #2 (1964)
Contest Winner (1963)
Office Building (1962)
W. Town House (1961)
E. Residence (1962)
La Jolla Real
Estate Brokers Association (1965)
Lippman, Melvyn &
Nanette Residence (1972)
Martin, Anthony Residence (ca. 1957-59)
Maynard Residence (1958)
Offices (circa 1960)
Residence (ca. 1955-1957)
Private Residence (1960)
Private Residence (ca.
Private Residence (1964)
Residence (ca. 1959-1960)
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Residene (1959)
Spec House (1962)