Stair builder, Norman Hasenfang has been living and working in San Diego for the past twenty-nine years. His work can be seen all around the area, from historic houses, to yachts in the bay, to the orangutan climbing structure at the San Diego Zoo. He has become one of San Diego’s most sought after craftsmen and his work has been featured in prominent local publications suchSan Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles and Homemagazines.
Born and raised in Chicago, Norm attended three prominent fine art schools: The Art Institute, The Chicago Academy of Fine Art and the American Academy of Art, from there he branched out into building. Chicago, being a city of remarkable architecture, much of his time was spent studying the architecture of the area. In 1978 he took the opportunity to apprentice in Richmond, Virginia under Maurice Nelson, a famous craftsman of the region, working on the restoration of large colonial mansions.
In 1980 Norm moved to San Diego and put his skill with hand tools to work restoring yachts in the harbor including one owned by Greta Garbo. He loved the waterfront environment but when he received an offer to do an unusual project for the San Diego Zoo his sense of adventure won out. He found himself atop a 30ft pole wearing climbing spikes rigging together the climbing structure for the orangutan enclosure. Glancing down into the adjacent tiger enclosure he remembers thinking, “I love San Diego.”
In 1983 Norm’s exceptional skills as a craftsman were requested for a restoration project on the historical landmark, the Amy Strong House, an impressive example of the Craftsman Movement designed by renowned architect Emmor Brooke Weaver. During this project Norm and his crew completely restored the house to its 1907 splendor and secured its inclusion as an historic monument for San Diego.
As part of the project it was necessary for Norm to reconstruct the entire staircase as the original was entirely missing. He was able to deduce the layout from pencil marks left on the walls by the original builder, seemingly left just for him to find almost eighty years later. Intrigued by the complexity and level of difficulty associated with the staircase, Norm was drawn in a new direction.
Since that time Norm has devoted most of his efforts towards staircases and architectural features including the restoration of period residences. He prides himself on producing impeccable work that is not only architecturally correct, but in harmony with its surroundings.