CLIFF MAY (1906-1989)
May grew up in San Diego CA. On his mother's side he was related to Jose Antonio Estudillo, one of the founders of San Diego. His father's side held a lifetime lease on the old Los Flores Rancho in San Diego County. May built Monterey-style furniture as a young man then started designing houses. He is credited with creating the pitched-roof, low-slung California Ranch-style house in 1932 while having no formal education as an architect or formal licensure.
During his career, May designed over 1,000 custom residences. In 1932 May's first house sold for $9,500. The second home he built was featured in Architectural Digest in 1934. He continued to build 50 additional houses in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles in 1935. His work was featured in Architectural Forum, American Home, California Arts and Architecture, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Sunset Magazine, Modernism Magazine, and Southern California Quarterly, among others. During the 1950s May, along with colleague Chris Choate designed prefab tract ranch homes old to builders across the US. The partnership between May and Choate ended in 1956 with May's departure. In 2012, UC Santa Barbara and the organization Pacific Standard Time mounted a retrospective exhibition, Carefree California: Cliff May and the Romance of the Ranch, 1920-1960. His archive is at UC Santa Barbara.
Subdivision: Lakewood Rancho Estates
1932 - The O'Leary House, San Diego CA.
1933 - The Lindstrom House, San Diego CA. On the National Register of Historic Places.
1933 - The Sheldon Hodge House, San Diego CA. Destroyed in the 1970s by a gas explosion.
1933 - The Porterfield Beardsley House, San Diego CA. May's first commissioned house.
1934 - aka Highland House, San Diego CA. Listed on the City of San Diego's Historic Register.
1935 - The Whalen House, Bonita CA.
1936 - The Tucker House, San Diego CA.
1936 - The Hacienda Ranch House, San Diego CA.
1936 - The Smith House, La Habra Heights CA.
1937 - The Smith House, 969 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles CA. This first house in LA combines California Ranch style with the hacienda which would later define his style. Photos by Michael Locke.
1938 - The Riviera Ranch Model Home, aka Cliff May House 3, 1500 Old Oak Road, Los Angeles CA. The hacienda-style house was built by May as his personal residence in 1938. The house also served as a model home to generate sales in the neighborhood. It is out of sight and at the top of Old Oak Road; he called it Mandalay. Architect A. T. Gilman designed a new wing to the house in 1973, adding two bedrooms and two baths, and remodeled the study. Architects Conrad Buff and Don Hensman designed a bath and dressing room addition and remodeled the kitchen for owners Mr. and Mrs. McDonald in 1977. May remodeled the house for actor Robert Wagner, adding accessory living quarters and attached garage in 1983 and a gym and bathroom in 1985. As of 2023, the house was undergoing a major renovation. Photos by Michael Locke.
1939 - The Oakmont House, Los Angeles CA. Located in Brentwood Park.
1947 - aka House Beautiful Pace Setter Exhibition House, Los Angeles CA. Commissioned around 1944. Project architect, William Cody.
1948 - The W. H. Theobold House, 1831 Old Orchard Road, Los Angeles CA. Allied Builders added a carport and remodeled an existing garage into a den for owner Vancille H. Doering in 1961. Photo by Michael Locke.
1948 - The Sullivan Canyon Ranches, Los Angeles CA.
1951 - aka Prefab House, Phoenix AZ.
1952 - Best O. and Mary Cairns Dawson House, 11681 Valleycrest Road, Studio City CA. Sold in 1987 to Julie Payne Reicheg. For sale in 2023. Photos by Michael Locke.
1952 - aka Cliff May Experimental House, Los Angeles CA. Renovated in 2007 by Marmol Radziner.
1952 - aka Tanglewood House, Lubbock TX.
1953 - aka Rancho Rinconada, Cupertino CA. Subdivision of around 900 homes, built with Stern & Price.
1954 - Prefab Homes, Tucson AZ.
1954 - Prefab Homes, Lakewood WA.
1955 - aka Casa View Oaks Prefab Homes, Dallas TX.
1955 - aka Charleston Heights Prefab Homes, Las Vegas NV.
1955 - aka Harvey Park Prefab Homes, Denver CO.
1955 - 2 Prefab Homes, Odessa TX.
1955 - The Cherokee Village Prefab Houses, Cherokee Village AR.
1955 - The Castle Hills Prefab Homes, San Antonio TX.
1955 - aka Maywood Hills Prefab Homes, Salt Lake City UT.
1955 - The Fish-Baughman House, Millcreek UT. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
1955 - The Cliff May House, aka Mandalay, Brentwood, Los Angeles CA.
Around 1955 - The James House, Brentwood, Los Angeles CA. Renovated in 2009 by Marmol Radziner.
1955 - The Friedman House, Brentwood, Los Angeles CA. Renovated in 2011 by Marmol Radziner.
1956 - aka Oakmont Residence, Brentwood, Los Angeles CA. Renovated in 2006 by Marmol Radziner.
1956 - 9 houses, Medford OR. Developed with J. T. Hight Builders.
1956 - 79 houses, Westridge Manor, Bishop CA. Developed with Marburt Homes Inc.
1956 - Developmont in Santa Maria CA. With builder George Pabst.
1956 - aka Overdale House, Columbus OH.
1963 - aka Vientos House, Camarillo CA.
1963 - The Frederick and Floride Rebsamen House, aka Ocotillo House, 6225 North Camino Escalante, Tucson AZ.
1968 - aka Oxblow House, Solvang CA.
1969 - aka Private Residence, Phoenix AZ.
1973 - The Charles House, Fresno CA.
1973 - aka El Vuelo House, Rancho Santa Fe CA.
1978 - The Gerald (Jerry) Katell House, 27 Crest Road West, Rolling Hills CA.
1982 - 17549 Via de Fortuna, Rancho Santa Fe CA.
Sources include: Cliff May Registry.