The coffee table book which is publicized as “... a showcase of the region’s finest architects, home builders, landscape architects, interior designers, artisans, craftsmen and other industry specialists, under whose creative direction the extraordinary is possible.”
The published photos of Kessler’s construction projects are also the work of a Brookings artist, photographer William Ferry.The introduction to the article begins with a bit of history about “a long line of Kesslers that can stretch back to prior to WWII. ...” Kessler has definitely kept that line going. His parents and grandparents came to Brookings in 1945 at the end of World War II. “During the war my uncle and grandfather worked building merchant ships,” he said. “Dad started a cabinet shop with Elmer Lee, a craftsman from Norway.
As Kessler relates the story, their first introduction to Brookings was on a foggy day and they traveled on up to Gold Beach where they put a deposit on a piece of property.
He said, “The next day they decided to take another look at Brookings, and they were glad they did. The met Elmer Bankus hauling a house and asked, “How much for the house?’ When he told them $400, they bought it and set it up on the corner of Railroad and Center Streets, across from the Post Office parking lot.”
“It was great growing up here,” Kessler said in a recent interview. “My mother was a water dog and in the summer, from age 7 or 8 until about 13, we would finish our chores and head up to the second bridge and swim all day.”
He verified the information in the book that noted that he actually began working in the construction business with his father, Homer Kay Kessler, when he was 13 years old, and has continued that work with only minor interruptions for the past 40 years.
On his first day on the job he was assigned to building rafters. He explained that there were no truss building companies in those days. “I had to balance, lift, and pound in nails. I was excited. I missed the exact phrase and when I got home I told my mom, ‘I built a roof bone today.’ It was a family joke for years.”
Kessler said that working with his father was the best training he could have received. “Dad was known as the best builder in town, and he wouldn’t tolerate sloppiness. If it wasn’t right, you’d have to tear it out and do it again. I learned to put it together right.”
He graduated from Brookings Harbor High School in 1972 and by the time he was 18 his father had him working as the foreman on a home being built for Frank Akins.
Except for four years spent building 30 homes in Bend, Kessler’s construction projects have all been in Curry County, have weathered well, and still rate high praise for beauty and quality construction.
He built ocean view homes for many well-known Brookings residents, including Ron Fallert, Ray Nidiffer, and Elmo Williams.
He was also successful at remodeling older homes which he bought and sold. “On the third old house I was remodeling, I was just refinishing the siding, working on weekends, when the newly-appointed, first full-time Brookings fire chief stopped and said, ‘That’s beautiful.’ And when I told him I was getting ready to move, he said, ‘I want to buy it.’”
Although he was successfully running his own business in Bend, the winters drove him back to his old home town. He said he decided, “I can handle the rain.”
In addition to designing and building custom homes for individuals, while working with his father, Kessler built the Cedar Village apartments. In association with Mike Mahar, he developed a number of subdivisions, including Vista Ridge, Sunset Point, Oakwood Manor, and Parkview Estates, and he built the majority of the homes in Mahar’s Harris Beach Estates subdivision.
Kessler said that when he was contacted by the publishers of Perspective on Design Pacific Northwest he asked, “Why me?” He said he wondered why they would call him in little Brookings rather than bigger builders in the big city. He was a bit flattered to be told that it was because of recommendations from architects.
As part of a long line of builders, Kessler continues to enjoy building beautiful homes, and he insists that now is a great time to build.
The book is available at Words and Pictures and can also be viewed at the Chetco Community Public Library.