Cliff May

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Cliff May (1909–1989) was an architect practicing in California best known and remembered for developing the suburban Post-war "dream home" (California Ranch House), and the Mid-century Modern.

The Ranch-style house[edit]

May grew up in San Diego, California. He built Monterey-style furniture as a young man. As a residential/building designer, May designed projects throughout Southern California, including the regions around San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, California. He is credited with creating the California Ranch-style house in 1932. He never had the need to formally register as a licensed architect.

May, over the course of his career, designed numerous commercial buildings, over a thousand custom residences, and from model house prototypes more than eighteen thousand tract houses had his imprint. May synthesized Spanish Colonial Revival architecture with abstracted California adobe ranchos and Modern architecture. Robert Mondavi chose May to design his winery in which he incorporated features found in construction of California Missions.[1]

May died in 1989, at the age of eighty, at his estate "Mandalay" in Sullivan Canyon, in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

The HGTV television show Flip or Flop featured remodels of two Cliff May homes.


Selected works include:[2][3][4]

  • O'Larry House (1932), in San Diego, California
  • Lindstorm House (1933), In San Diego, California
  • Sheldon Hodge House (1933), In San Diego, California, destroyed by gas explosion in the 1970s
  • Porterfield Beardsley House (1933), in San Diego, California
  • Highland House (1934), in San Diego, California
  • Whalen House (1935), in Bonita, In San Diego, California
  • Tucker House (1936), in San Diego, California
  • Hacienda Ranch House (1936), in San Diego, California
  • Smith House (1936), in La Habra Heights, California
  • Oakmont House (1939), in Brentwood Park, Los Angeles, California
  • House Beautiful's Pacesetter House (1947), in Los Angeles, California
  • Sullivan Canyon Ranches (c.1948), in Los Angeles, California
  • Cliff May Experimental House (1952), in Los Angeles, California
  • Tanglewood House (1952), in Lubbock, Texas
  • Rancho Estates (1953-1954), in Long Beach, California
  • Harvey Park (1955), in Denver, Colorado

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hubler, Shawn (April 24, 2012). "California wine came of age under him Vintner elevated state's wines". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Cliff May's First Houses 1932-1936" (PDF).
  3. ^ "7 Classic Cliff May Houses".
  4. ^ "Ocotillo Residence".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]