Rylands House and Columbia Hatchery, 3465 W. 44th Avenue

Physician Assistant Donna Benton wrote HBR: “I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to know the story of my beloved home. We call her the ‘Queen on King St.’ Apparently one of the first owners was a doctor and ran his practice out on the front of our home.” The lovely 1925 brick bungalow with an entrance facing the corner of W. 44th Avenue and King Street is worthy of the family nickname, although our research revealed a different, very interesting story associated with the days when the Berkeley Regis neighborhood still embraced a variety of agricultural enterprises. This property was the headquarters of one of the largest poultry hatcheries in Denver. Edward and Lily Rylands from Liverpool, England, built the house and ran the hatchery on their land. The former hatchery office is still present inside at the front of the house.

Edward Ernest Rylands was born on 26 February 1886 to Josiah and Sarah Rylands; his father worked as a painter. Edward moved to the United States in 1910, soon settling in Denver, where two of his brothers also relocated. He traveled back to Liverpool in 1911, marrying Lily Nother (see photo; born 1887) and returning with her to America. The couple became parents of three children: Lily G. (1913-2012), Mildred F. (1916-2002), and (Edward A. (1929-2002).

When they arrived in Denver, the Rylands brothers, Edward, Josiah, and Albert, initially secured a variety of jobs with established companies preparing and selling poultry. In 1911 Edward, who was described as “a lifelong expert on chickens,” prepared 700 fowl by feeding them “milk to make them plump and tender” for a dinner honoring US President Taft. In that year the brothers also founded and operated their own “Columbia Hatchery.” Edward became a naturalized citizen in 1916, recording his occupation as “poultry raising” and his address as 4405 Irving Street. The next year he and Lily rented a 1907 house at 3439 W. 44th Avenue (still standing). When Edward registered for the World War I draft in 1918, he revealed the following personal information: he resided at 3437 W. 44th (built in 1907 and still standing), was 5’ 4” tall, slender, and had dark hair and gray eyes.

In 1919 Edward Rylands purchased a large piece of land comprising all of Lot 1 in Block 14 of Grand View, immediately north of his house. The following year, he made another acquisition that included portions of Lot 3 of the block, including his house (indicated in red on the plat below).

The acquired properties permitted a business expansion, and in 1921 Columbia Hatchery boasted it was the “largest shipper of baby chicks in Denver.” By 1923 Columbia advertised itself as “Denver’s Only Electric Hatchery,” with a capacity of 12,000 weekly. The enterprise reported shipment of chicks and eggs throughout Colorado, parts of the Midwest, and the Rocky Mountain region. The company’s motto was: “A Well-Hatched Chick is Half Raised.”

Columbia Hatchery’s operations prospered enough to support construction of a new home for the Rylands family at 3465 W. 44th Avenue in 1925. A 1933 aerial photograph of the vicinity showed the Rylands property with a long sidewalk extending from the rear of the house to an open area accessed by a driveway, with at least four outbuildings standing further north. A few houses appeared in Lot 1 on the other side of W. 45th Avenue by that date, indicating the Rylands had sold some of their land. They continued to operate the hatchery until at least 1933, when Irene Koser purchased their house. Edward died in 1939. In 1940, Lily Rylands lived in Lakewood, where she owned and managed a business called the Baby Chick Company with two of her children. She passed away in 1957.

Sources: Photographs of Edward and Lily Rylands courtesy and Geni; Columbia Hatchery Ad, Denver Post, 11 March 1928; Plat of Block 14 courtesy Denver Public Library; current photo by Tom Simmons.

Posted by Laurie Simmons, 15 October 2020

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