John Byers was born in Michigan, attended Harvard University, and became a French and Spanish teacher in California in the early 1900’s…hardly the expected path to a brilliant career in architecture. While in Los Angeles, he shared the stage with some of the most dynamic designers and builders of the time.
John Byers was heavily influenced by the adobe style and the history of early Hispanic California buildings, evident in the missions and homes of early California. He was dedicated to preserving the construction methods and their influence on California architecture and lifestyle, honoring the indigenous traditions by publishing many articles describing their importance.
John Byers’ passion for architecture led him to a major shift in his life…to design and build in the genre that inspired him. For 30 years, Byers designed many homes, mainly in Santa Monica, Brentwood, and Pacific Palisades. More than any other single architect, he is credited for defining the “look” of those communities, having a tremendous impact on their architectural style: thick adobe walls finished with smooth stucco; low-pitched, red-tiled roofs; broad front porches or verandas shaded by deep overhangs; deeply recessed, wood-framed, windows; arcaded porches or walkways; heavy wood front doors; and interior courtyards. Byers went so far as to create his own workshop, employing Mexican artisans who created the details of the adobe brick, the decorative tile, wrought iron and woodwork he used in the style of Mexican and Spanish Colonial Revival.