The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 1999, Volume 45, Number 4
Gregg Hennessey, Editor

6 x 6 inch tile KAOSPAR WCT CO   back of FAIENCE tile   tile used on walls of Santa Fe Depot
[These threee images of China Products Co tiles from our
Curatorial Collection were not included in the original article]

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One of the two towers of the Santa Fe Railroad

One of the two towers of the Santa Fe Railroad Station completed in 1914. The largest railway station building in the nation used by a single carrier, it was also the first successful adaptation of Spanish Colonial Revival in a modern commercial building. [Photo 4401-1]
California China Products Company The California China Products Company, seen here about 1916, was located near San Diego Bay in National City. Originally established in 1911 to manufacture fine porcelain products, CCPCo earned nation-wide fame for its design and firing of brilliant, polychromatic tile. [Photo 10751-a]

John H. McKnight was a mineralogist who helped found the California China Products Company. A trained chemist, as well as ceramist, he spent four years experimenting to develop the San Diego kaolin into viable porcelain products. [Photo by Chris Travers, Shadow Box Studio and courtesy of National City Public Library, Local History Room]

The interior of the plant was photographed for the National City News in 1911. [Photo by Chris Travers, Shadow Box Studio and courtesy of National City Public Library, Local History Room]
California State Building, Balboa Park

The 1915 California State Building with its splendid rotunda and 180 foot tower were resplendently adorned with tiles from the California China Products Company. In the brilliant light of the California sun, hundreds of polychromatic faience tiles shone off the massive sixty-foot high dome, with its vibrant abstract starburst designs. [Photo 852]

The 1915 Panama-California Exposition’s [Science and Education] Building showed a more modest use of tiles on its tower. [Photo 82-14106]

The new Santa Fe Railway Depot, shortly after its completion in 1914, was decorated with tiles on its towers and in its passenger waiting areas. Blakewell and Brown designed the Santa Fe Depot in a totally unique Southern California Hispanic style. Borrowing elements from California’s missions, Latin American churches, and Roman basilicas, its most notable feature is also the prodigious use of CCPCo Hispano-Mooresque tile. [Photo 9564]

Waiting Room of the Santa Fe Depot

The Waiting Room of the Santa Fe Depot used tiles for its floors and wainscots. Inside the cavernous room, along the east and west walls, are tiled wainscots covered in rich geometric patterns of green, blue, yellow, white, and black. In each of their pilasters, set in green and black tile on a blue background, is the famous cross and logo emblem of the Santa Fe Railway. [Photo 4051]

Fred Harvey Lunch Room

The Fred Harvey Lunch Room in the depot used tile on its walls. CCPCo’s artisans designed, and San Diego Tile and Woodstone installed a wall map of the railway’s complete system. Made entirely of faience tile, it depicted the company’s rail lines from Chicago to the Pacific. Bordered by raised tiles, the map consisted of over 280 six-inch square matte glazed colored tiles. [ Detail Photo 4405-2]