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Wright, Lloyd

William P. Kesling
(1899-1983)

He was born in Brenham, Texas on October 18, 1899. The Kesling family moved to Calexico, California in 1916. In 1920, William moved to L.A. where he worked his way up from carpenter's helper to carpenter boss. In 1923 he began contracting carpenter labor, then branched out into general contracting. In 1926 he married Ehrma Williams. H was building at the height of the Great Depression, yet he testified in 1936 that he somehow managed to erect: "over 450 homes, stores, and apartments in L.A. and the vicinity. While I have never made a fortune, I have made a fair living."

...Kesling's 1964 resume states that he was Schindler's draughtsman, around 1928. Kesling opened up his own office, Kesling Modern Structures, and built his "first Modern House... at Easterly Terrace in Silver Lake in 1935. Kesling showed his model house to prospective customers, selling future houses on speculation.

...Between 1935 and 1937 when he was indicted for fraud, Kesling constructed 15 houses and duplexes in the Silver Lake hills. A dozen others sprouted up in West Hollywood, advertised as "scintillating modern structures."

...Julius Shulman, who has photographed both Schindler and Kesling houses, believes that: "Kesling has become important historically because he marked the transition from Art Deco Streamline Moderne to Schindler's modern style." Schindler and Kesling had one thing in common. Their work was not taken seriously at first by the architectural establishment because they acted as their own contractors. This was not the conventional road for professional architects."

Kesling designed housing for the Navy during the war, after which he resurfaced in La Jolla, the upscale resort town near San Diego. Streamline Moderne was a thing of the past, but he moved with the market. His late '40s designs were conservative wood and brick houses with trellises and patios; one was photographed by Shulman for Life. Kesling's comet had burned out; a row of beach houses gained the pejorative nickname "Kesling's Kozy Kowsheds... Kesling's 1964 resume, which made no mention of his arrest and probation, stated that he had built 3,000 houses in his 30-year career. William P. Kesling died in San Diego in 1983, a victim of Alzheimer's disease.

Source: "William Kesling, Rogue Architect of Streamline Moderne" by Ginger Moro in Echoes, Fall 1999.

Partial List of San Diego Projects

Borrego Springs Desert Club (1949)
401 Tilting T Drive Borrego Springs

Hugh Woods Market (1951)
Christmas Circle, Borrego Springs

McConnell Residence (1947)
1890 Spindrift, La Jolla
Published in Life Magazine, November 3, 1947, photographs by Julius Shulman

Private Residence (1948)
639 Rosemont, La Jolla

Private Residence (1948)
7972 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla

Private Residence (1947)
6261 Dowling Drive, La Jolla

Partial List of Kesling Projects By Year

1941-1942: Kaysor Residence (La Jolla)

1942:
100 prefabricated detached dwellings at the intersection of Market & 46th Streets (East San Diego)

1946:
Gamson House, Ingall House, King House, and Everett House (La Jolla)

1946-1947:
Dowling Drive Spec Homes (12 detached dwellings) (La Jolla)

1947-1948:
McConnell Residence (La Jolla), 721 Genter Street (La Jolla), 7972 La Jolla Shores Drove (La Jolla), 4304 Narragansett Avenue (Pt. Loma), 4303 Narragansett Avenue (Pt. Loma), 4320 Niagara Avenue (Pt. Loma), Lot 12 Block 69 Pt. Loma Heights (Pt. Loma), Lots 27-28, Block 16 Bird Rock City by the Sea (La Jolla), Lots 28-32 Block 8 La Jolla Park (La Jolla), Lot B, F T Scripps Add to La Jolla Park (La Jolla), Block 1 La Jolla Park (La Jolla), Lot 6, Block 25 La Jolla Hermosa Unit No. 2 (La Jolla); Lots 5, 8, 10 & 18 Block 34 La Jolla Hermosa Unit No. 2 (La Jolla); Lot 1 Block 40 La Jolla Hermosa Unit No. 2 (La Jolla); Lots 2-3, 5-6 & 9-10 Block 41 La Jolla Hermosa Unit No. 2 (La Jolla); and Lot 9 Block 15 La Jolla Shores Unit No. 1 (La Jolla).
 
1948: 8499 La Jolla Shores Drive (La Jolla), 5943 Folsom Drive (La Jolla), 639 Rosemont Street (La Jolla), Lot 2 Block 20 of La Jolla Shores Unit No. 3 (La Jolla).
   
1951-1952: Kesling plotted the Cliffside Subdivision from Blocks 16, 17, and 18 of the 1908 Bird Rock Subdivision.  Identified Kesling built homes in the Cliffside Tract are 5511 Calumet Avenue and 5559 Calumet Avenue, and potentially 5576 Chelsea Avenue (also the house at Chelsea & Midway (in Table 1 attached) is a Kesling within the Cliffside boundaries).


 



The Borrego Springs Desert Club (1949)