Cliff May was coined “the father of the ranch house.” Those of us growing up in the 60s, 70s, and 80s probably remember the bland single-story homes with no defining characteristics. But these weren’t the “ranch houses” Cliff May designed. His thoughts started with the original “ranch” houses — as in ranches with horses, cattle, and acres of land. So that is the first of his ideas: modernizing and building homes that evoke the California lifestyle. Like those original ranches, his homes frequently had an enclosed courtyard and a deep-rooted connection to the outdoors. The architectural features were all driven by the romantic notion of the “California Lifestyle.”
Cliff May built over 1,000 custom homes for well-to-do and famous. But the real story is how he was able to impart the California lifestyle to over 10,000 families.
Cliff May homes dominated suburbs throughout the U.S. in the 1950s. His mass-produced residences came out of a prefabricated system, with precut lumber panels, windows, doors and other parts shipped from a factory and assembled on site. He worked with local developers and licensed the home designs to them.
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