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Cliff May


Cliff May

For the political journalist, see Clifford May.

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

Projects and the Ranch-style house

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.

Cliff 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 choose May to design his winery in which he incorporated features found in construction of California Missions.[1]

Cliff 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 Brentwood, California.

See also

Home portal
  • Cliff May Experimental House


  • Cliff May and the California Ranch House, Laura Gallegos, California State University, Sacramento. (PDF)
  • Cliff May Architecture
  • “Designer of the Dream” by Mary A. van Balgooy published in the Southern California Quarterly 86, No. 2 (2004).
  • "Before LA: Cliff May's Beginnings in San Diego" by Mary A. van Balgooy published in The Journal of San Diego History 57, No. 4 (2011).

Further reading

  • Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House, Rizzoli, 2008.
  • Cliff May Home Registry

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