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What's in a name?

Colonel's clout got armory built

Homer Hesterly served in two World Wars and was president of Turner Marble and Granite Co.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 21, 2003

Georgia native Homer Wynne Hesterly had developed impressive civilian and military profiles by his early 20s.

Prior to serving in World War I, he was a civil engineer and trained artilleryman. In 1916, he purchased a half interest in the Turner Marble and Granite Co. of Tampa, which was founded by his brother-in-law, H.G. Turner. That same year he served on the Mexican border with the 2nd Florida Infantry.

In 1917, he was assigned to the 6th U.S. Engineers and served a year in France. By 1921, he was commissioned as a captain of artillery and assigned to the 116th Field Artillery. By 1934 he was a colonel, and using his clout to lobby for an artillery armory in Tampa.

It was built by 1940, and named after him a year later. He would see wartime once more, this time serving with the 31st "Dixie" Division in the South Pacific during World War II.

Throughout Hesterly stayed involved with the Turner Marble and Granite Co., eventually serving as its president. He was also a deacon in the Bayshore Baptist Church, a member of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Ybor City Rotary Club and several Masonic bodies. He died in 1957 at age 68.

Though still a National Guard facility, the armory is more famously known as a performance and sports venue. Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King Jr. and Pink Floyd are among those who have appeared there, amid countless wrestling, boxing and civic events.

The facility, now outdated, has an uncertain future. Construction of a new National Guard facility in Pinellas Park could mean that Hesterly would be vacated and handed back over to the city, which owns the land.

-- Source: Tampa Bay History Center.

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