A Lifetime of Stories to Tell

Contented original owners to pass along 'untouched' custom Henry Hester design
Fridays on the Homefront
The Renshaw house (above), in Del Mar, near San Diego, which recently went on the market for the first time, is a beautiful home on a cruciform layout designed by Henry Hester, one of San Diego's most influential modernist architects. All photos courtesy Keith York

It's great when a home hits the market with a lifetime of stories to tell.

Enter the Renshaw residence in Del Mar, north of San Diego.

For its original owners, Charles and Elynor Renshaw, that property was more like a ranch, and the couple used every square inch of it productively over the years, beginning with the building of a mid-century modern home there designed by one of San Diego's most influential modernist architects.

In 1958, the Renshaws commissioned Henry Hester (1925-2006) to design that home, which recently went on the market for the first time, for $2.4 million, on one-plus acres at 4519 South Lane.

Fridays on the Homefront

Born in Oklahoma, Hester's family moved to San Diego when he was in junior high. After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, he attended USC, graduating in 1947 and continuing on to become one of San Diego's most influential modernist architects.

"Hester was a self-made man who designed cool, low-key houses and small commercial buildings; a prototypical USC graduate," says listing agent Keith York, a partner with the firm Agents of Architecture.

A devoted modernist and preservation advocate, York also runs ModernSanDiego.com and recently presented a talk on 'Julius Shulman's Modern San Diego' last month at Palm Springs Modernism Week.

Architect Henry Hester, 1959. Photo courtesy ModernSanDiego.com

"Quite a bit of Hester's work was photographed by Shulman," York says, "and it's very special to come across one of his homes.

"I've been in a lot of homes, and it's rare to find one that hasn't been remodeled. Here, [at the Renshaw house] they were happy with the architecture, and that makes all the difference."

York was hired six years ago by the daughter of the original owners, who have since passed. The daughter kept in touch with him over the years, relaying the stories of her parents.

Fridays on the Homefront

"Charles, known to everyone as 'Buzz,' was an attorney but, by all accounts, was a family man who left work at the end of the day and spent a lot of time at home with his wife and family," says York. In later years, his accomplishments would include flying and auto racing.

"They were modern, contemporary-minded folks," he says. "Buzz wanted a modern envelope, and Elynor was in charge of the domestic domain," furnishing their home with the very best.

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