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Much Like Their Buildings

There are fewer of San Diego's post-War architects
with us today

By Keith York

Henry Hartwell Hester and Stanley J. French, two San Diego architects that contributed to its modern landscape have passed away. These two men helped create a unique vision for San Diego during its post-war building boom. While both retired outside of San Diego before passing away, they left San Diegans a number of interesting sites to discover and enjoy.

Though his designs for Gerald Jerome, Colonel Irving Salomon and Jonathan Edwards were widely published through Julius Shulman's timeless images, Henry Hester, a 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 second home on Torrey Pines Road to golf and maintain his health in Palm Springs, California.

Henry Hester was born May 30, 1925 in Vinta, Oklahoma. Young Henry attended Roosevelt Junior High and Brown Military Academy in San Diego until World War Two broke out. Hester served three years in the US Coast Guard and then attended USC.

The same day he graduated from USC's School of Architecture in 1947, he moved to La Jolla. Designing two homes for himself (also photographed by Julius 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.

Following a brief stint in the office of Lloyd Ruocco, through the years, Henry Hester would join in partnership with Frederick Liebhardt (1957), Ronald K. Davis (1958-59), William F. Cody (1958-1960), fellow USC-grad Robert E. Jones (1960-67) as well as Roger Zucchat and David Lorimer.

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."

Following graduation from USC in the 1947, Stanley French practiced architecture in San Diego through 1975. As with Hester, soon after graduation from USC's School of Architecture, French worked for Lloyd Ruocco in his office at The Design Center. Following his tenure with Ruocco, Stanley worked for Henry Hester in the early 1950s.

Stanley French became interested in commercial construction and moved on to a position with L.C. Anderson Co. as an estimator for a number of years. By the late 1950s, he had begun with Boyle Engineering.

Employed with Boyle Engineering from the late 50's into the 80's, he was the senior architect for projects such as a proposal for a floating stadium for the San Diego Chargers on Mission Bay. Through Boyle's offices, French would employ a number of great building designers including the late Ted Paulson (noted for the 1953 Education Center at 1405 Park Boulevard).

Both El Camino Memorial Park and the San Diego County Juvenile Detention Center (1967) were projects he remained proud of in later life. The design for the Detention Center included solar power considerations that were ahead of their time. French recently stated, "The entire line of exterior sunscreen panels moved so that screens were protecting exterior glass and were activated by solar clocks. They automatically returned to the starting position at night."

While we all lament their passing, the built environment they left us will allow for their memory to endure.

2006 - Volume 37, Issue 4


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Stick with the Classics

Rancho to Ranch House

First Do No Harm

Welcome '06-'07 SOHO Board

Borrego Springs Modern II

Much Like Their Buildings

Membership Changes for Dues & Levels

Juan María Osuna Adobe

The H. Lee House

Spending the Holidays with SOHO

Whaley House Museum's October Season is a Resounding Success

Annual Meeting & Elections

Adobe U - Provides Much Needed Repairs to Casa de Estudillo

Interrobang Lecture Series 2007

Whaley House to Celebrate 150th in 2007

Whaley House Docents are VIPs!

Strength in Numbers

Lost San Diego

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