Author John Chase, Daniel Platt Gregory Publisher Museum of Art & History, 2005 Editor Judith Steen Periodical The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture Source Type Book Source ID S1084 Text Walter Graves Byrne (1891 - 1949). Walter Graves Byrne was born in San Francisco, the son of George Griffin Byrne and Helen Graves Byrne. Approximately three years later, the Byrne family, formerly of Jackson, Michigan, settled in Santa Cruz.
Walter Byrne attended the University of California, Berkeley, when the Craftsman aesthetic was prevalent there, graduating in the class of 1914. While a student, he did drafting work for Julia Morgan and John Galen Howard. The Craftsman preference for simplicity, a preference which allows material to become important as design elements, is evident in the buildings in Santa Cruz which can be assigned to him: The Walter Charles Byrne house, 1912, and his own home, 1919.
On returning to Santa Cruz, Byrne found that there were not enough commissions available to support him as an architect. Consequently, he became a teacher of mathematics and mechanical drawing at Santa Cruz High School in 1918. During the years 1921 to 1923, he was a junior partner of architect Allen C. Collins. Their office was located in the New Santa Cruz Theatre Building at the northwest corner of Pacific and Walnut Avenues.
In 1923, Byrne moved to Los Angeles, where he associated with the firm of Ross Montgomery and that of John C. Austin, architect of Los Angeles City Hall, Shrine Auditorium, and the Griffith Park Observatory. Byrne's most important project was the California State Building in the Los Angeles Civic Center. Byrne left Southern California for Oakland in 1942 and worked for Kaiser Industries during the war. He was afterwards employed by John J. Donovan, architect of Oakland Technical High School, the Ina Coolbirth Library, also in Oakland, and a consulting architect for the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge. At the time Byrne also designed an addition to the building which housed Oakland's Little Sisters of the Poor. He continued to practice until three years before his death in 1949.
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