Cliff May (1908-1989): Custom Ranch Houses
Owning Institution: UC Santa Barbara, Architecture and Design Collection, Art, Design and Architecture Museum
About this CollectionCliff May, known as 'the father of the ranch house,' was an early proponent of the California style ranch house. He first built hacienda style houses in San Diego in the 1930s, then moved to Los Angeles to create some of the most widely recognized ranch-style houses in the country. His early custom ranch houses of the 1930s follow the compact designs of his hacienda-style houses, but with central courtyards and face inwards. After the WWII years and the boom in tract housing through the 1950s, the custom houses Cliff May designed became larger, more open to the outside world, and sprawled through the home site with large motor courts and swimming pools. These changes reflected the needs of a different clientele-- as land prices increased, the wealthy wanted grand homes on large, expensive lots and the later houses reflect the changing wants and needs.
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