Ryland, C.J. (Columbus Jose)


Born: San Jose, California

California State Normal School
California Guild of Arts and Crafts
University of Toulouse
(no degrees or dates known)

Swartz & Ryland, 1919-1931, Fresno, Monterey, Salinas, California
Ryland, Etsy and McPhetres, 1931-1932, Santa Cruz
C.J. Ryland, 1932-1979, Salinas/Monterey/Carmel


Architect Columbus Jose Ryland was born in San Jose, California in 1892, son of Samuel and Malva Ryland. The family moved to Stockton, California by 1896. Columbus returned to San Jose to attend the State Normal School. He then enrolled at the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley under Frederick Meyer. Meyer, a cabinet maker from Germany and early proponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement, had founded the school in 1907 with ceramicist Rosa Taussing and artist Perham W. Nahl, with designer Isabelle Percy West joining the faculty in the first year. The school moved to Oakland in 1922 and became the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1936.

After Ryland passed his architectural exams in 1916, he took a position as an engineer with Pacific Portland Cement Company, and briefly worked as a draftsman, returning to Stockton prior to the beginning of World War I. Ryland entered military service during World War I and was stationed in France, where he remained after the war to study architecture and engineering at the University of Toulouse.

Ryland joined the Fresno firm of Swartz & Swartz after returning from France. In 1919, he relocated from his home in Stockton to Fresno to become Fred Swartz's junior partner in the firm following the death of Fred Swartz’s father A.C. Swartz. Swartz & Ryland became a prolific design firm in California’s San Joaquin Valley during the 1920s, with residential, commercial, and school commissions in cities such as Fresno, Coalinga, Corcoran, Chowchilla, and Hanford. By 1926, their work had extended to the San Francisco Bay Area, and by 1928, the firm had opened branch offices in the cities of Monterey and Salinas.

In 1931, C.J. Ryland left the firm, moving permanently to Monterey County with his wife Winnie, and established a new firm with Santa Cruz architect Lee Dill Etsy and civil engineer Daniel M. McPhetres. The partnership lasted only a year or two, although references indicate that Ryland and Etsy may have continued a working relationship into the 1940s. During the early years of the Depression, the group designed the Santa Cruz Mission Church, a replica of the original, and a number of prominent residences in Santa Cruz.

During the remainder of the 1930s, Ryland continued with his own practice in Salinas and then Monterey, and became associated with California Impressionist movement in Carmel where he estalblished residency with his wife and two daughters, Patricia and Elizabeth. He is said to have studied under well-known artists E. Charlton Fortune and Arthur Hill Gilbert. Ryland was commissioned for the design of Carmel’s Sunset School, and became a proficient contributor in Spanish Colonial Revival designs that were popular during this period for both residential and institution projects.

Ryland executed a number of important architectural works in the Monterey Bay area during the Depression, including many associated with the Public Works Administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.  His most well-known project in Santa Cruz County was Santa Cruz’s City Hall, which was completed in 1937.

Following World War II, Ryland, then in his early fifties, re-established his architectural career, and during the post-war period is attributed with many buildings in the Monterey and Santa Cruz County areas as well as public buildings in Santa Clara County. He was associated by 1950 with architect Ernest T. Miller, but his work after the early 1950s is not well documented. Much of his mid-century work is in the Streamline Moderne style. The length and productivity of his active career as an architect after 1954 until his death in Walnut Creek in 1980 at age 88 has not been chronicled.

C.J. Ryland was a community activist in art and architecture. He was appointed to the State Board of Architectural Examiners and served this statewide position from 1932-1940, and was a charter member and director of the Monterey Chapter of the AIA. He held a ten-year directorship at the Monterey History and Art Association, and has been identified as an active artist of the Carmel Artists’ Colony, serving in a leadership role within the Carmel Art Association.  ©FMAGGI2015

Swartz & Ryland
  • Rustigian Building, Fresno, 1920.
  • Carlton Hotel, Turlock, 1920.
  • A.B. Clark House, Fresno, 1924.
  • Cleve Stout House, Fresno, 1924.
  • A.B. Knapp House, Fresno, 1925.
  • Lemoore City Hall, Lemoore, 1925.
  • Union Stage Depot, Oakland, 1926.
  • St. Brigid's Church, Hanford, 1927.
  • Bank of Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea, 1929.
  • Elks Building, Visalia, date not determined.
  • Salinas National Bank, Salinas , 1930.
  • Fresno State College Library (now Fresno City College), Fresno, 1931.

Ryland, Etsy, and McPhetres

  • Mission Santa Cruz Replica.

C.J. Ryland

  • Carmel Sunset School, Carmel-by-the-Sea, 1931.
  • Casa di Campagna, 25434 Hatton Rd., Carmel, date unknown.
  • Dune House, Carmel, date unknown.
  • Carmel’s Sunset School Auditorium, Carmel-by-the-Sea, 1934.
  • Monterey City Hall (with W.O. Raiguel), Monterey, 1936.
  • Santa Cruz City Hall, Santa Cruz, 1937.
  • Morris/Abrams Store, Santa Cruz, 1937.
  • Ryland Residence, 25570 Hatton Rd., Carmel, date unknown.
  • Scotts Valley Middle School, Scotts Valley, 1941 and 1949.
  • La Plaza Apartments, Santa Cruz, 1948.
  • Thrash Motor Company Salesroom and Garage, Santa Cruz, 1948.
  • Santa Clara County Fairgrounds (misc. buildings 1943-1954), including:
  • Santa Clara County Fairgrounds Grandstand, San Jose, 1950. Demolished.
  • Santa Clara County Sheep & Swine Building, San Jose, 1951. Demolished.
  • Santa Clara County Exposition Building, San Jose, 1952.
  • Atteridge Building, Santa Cruz, 1951.  
Architect and Engineer, Form Partnership, Vol.55-59, p. 118, 1919.
Chase, John. The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz, 3rd Edition, 2005.
Dill Design Group, Historic Mitigation and Photo-documentation, Sheet and Swine Building and San Jose Driving Park, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 2001. 
Short, C.W. and R. Stanley-Brown. Public Buildings: Architecture under the Public Works Administration, 1933-1939, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1939.