Cliff May

Architect | 1908-1989

As a young San Diego native, Cliff May, built Monterey-style furniture prior to testing out his home designs starting in the El Cerrito neighborhood. He would go on to play a significant role in influencing postwar domestic architecture.

Alphus House, Photographer Not Known

Cliff May was born in San Diego in 1908. As a young man, May built Monterey-style furniture before, in 1931, he began his work as a designer/builder in San Diego and La Jolla.

May moved to Los Angeles in 1936, where he expanded his design work into development. By 1941, he had established a national reputation as the designer of the California Ranch House. After World War II he collaborated with Sunset Magazine in publishing the book Western Ranch Houses.

During the following decades May designed houses which were built in the U.S., Europe, South America, and elsewhere. In total over one thousand custom homes, and several tract house plans resulting in more than 18,000 homes came from his pen. His patio-oriented ranch style houses have been extensively copied by developers across the country.

Partial List of Projects

A.O. Miracle Company House (1932)
San Diego

Aldrete, Alberto Sr. House (1934)
Tijuana, Mexico

Alexander, Dr. Franz House (1935-36)
5759 Dolphin Place, La Jolla

Allen, Richard House (1933)
3597 Lomacitas Lane, Bonita

Axline, Rea A. House (1978)
17549 Via De Fortuna, Rancho Santa Fe

Beardsley, Dr. John and Florence Porterfield House (1933)
3130 Shadowlawn Court, Point Loma

Belcher, Frank G. Jr. House (1968)
Prestwick Estates, La Jolla

Burnham, Marston House (1947)
La Jolla

Clotfelter/Pettit Developers Condominiums (1978)
Poco a Poco, Rancho Santa Fe

Colby, Thomas House (1940)
Rancho Bendito, Valley Center/Escondido

Cottrell, George F. House (1935-36)
7819 (now 7727) Lookout, La Jolla

Crouse, Col. Alphus House (August 18, 1935)
9434 Sierra Vista, Mt. Helix

Daly-Simmons Construction Company Houses
San Diego
*Low cost tract housing, no date

Daniel, Harry M. House (1971)
Five Diamonds, Borrego Springs

Dittenhaver, N.B. House (November 28, 1934)
3462 Malito Drive, Bonita

Eason, Fred S. House (1964)
4777 Avion Way, Alvarado Estates
*Historically designated

El Campo Santo (1932)
Cemetery Wall, Old Town

Fairchild, David House Remodel (1984)
6126 Avenida Cresta, La Jolla

Farenholt, Adm A. House (1936)
3626 Hyacinth Drive, Point Loma

Fowler, Smith G. House(1944)
Rancho Jamacha, Spring Valley

Frank, Lt. Nicholas House (1936)
266 I Street, Coronado

Galloway, Frank and Peggy House (1958)

Gardner, Cmdr. Matthew B. and Mrs. House (June 26,1936)
200 Palm Avenue, Coronado

Garrett, J. Cliff House (ca. 1945)
30845 Cole Grade Road, Valley Center

Gaynes, Arthur M. House (1935)
9411 Lavell, Mt. Helix

Giacobine, Clifford House #1 (1977-79)
Coronado Cays

Giacobine, Clifford House #2 (1977-79)
Coronado Cays

Graves, George House (1935)
Grossmont, Mt. Helix

Hauser, Rupert V. House (1949)
331 Verbena, Borrego Springs

Highland, Alex House (1934)
2400 Presidio Drive, Mission Hills

Hodge, Sheldon Spec House #1 (1933)
4365 Altamirano Way, Mission Hills

Hodge, Sheldon Spec House #2 (1935)
4669 Altamirano Way, Mission Hills

Hodge, Sheldon Spec House #3 (1935)
2440 Marilouise Way, Mission Hills

Hopkins, Mrs. I.M. House (1945)
Warner Hot Springs

Horton, Hiram Spec House #1 (1935)
7447 Hillside Drive, La Jolla

Horton, Hiram Spec House #2 (1935)
7455 Hillside Drive, La Jolla

Horton, Hiram Spec House #3 (1935)
7575 Hillside Drive, La Jolla

Horton, Hiram Spec House #4 (1935)
7477 Hillside Drive, La Jolla

Hyde House (1938)
160 G Avenue, Coronado

Ingram, Adm. Jonas House (1937)

Kilbourne, Don B. House (1936)

Knauss, Cmdr. E. House (1935-36)
633 Alameda Avenue, Coronado

Langston, Wade House (1934)
6116 Avenida Cresta, La Jolla

Lindstrom, Cpt. William House (Spec House #2) (1933)
4669 East Talmadge Drive, Talmadge

Llwellyn, David House (1936)

Magee, Louis House Remodel (1947)
San Luis Rey Valley

Magee, Victor and Norma House Remodel (1984)
San Diego

May, Cliff House (1935)
4338 Adams Avenue, Talmadge

May, Cliff House #4 'Experimental Ranch House' AKA 'Skylight House' (1953)
1831 Old Ranch Road, Los Angeles

McDaniel, Rex House (1952)

Model Home (1955)
2957 54th Street, College Grove

Model Home (1955)
1074 Merrit Drive, El Cajon

Nuckolls, Mrs. George H. House (1936)
6004 Avenida Cresta, La Jolla

O'Leary Col. Arthur Spec House (1932)
4725 Norma Drive, Talmadge

Owen, William House(1954)
3003 Thornton Place, College Grove

Parzen, Dr. Zane House Remodel (1973)
Camino de la Costa, La Jolla

Peacock, Mrs. Marie House (1935)
445 Arenas Street, La Jolla

Private House (1953)
2021 Diegueno, Borrego Springs

Private House (1937)
266 I Avenue, Coronado

Private House (1955)
521 Avenida Primavera, Del Mar

Private House (1955)
1634 Forest Way, Del Mar

Private House (1955)
8893 Country Club Place, La Jolla
*Likely example of ‘Cliff May Homes’ design

Private House (1941)
6117 Avenida Cresta, La Jolla

Private House (1940)
1488 Gustavo Street, El Cajon

Private House (1936)
9291 Lavell Street, Mt. Helix

Private House(1936)
3625 Dupont Street, Point Loma

Private House (1933)
4365 Altamarino Way

Rollins, Dick House (1953)
Rincon Springs

Romagnolo, Michael (Tovrea) House Remodel (1936)
2951 Bessemer Street

Seligman, Cmdr. Mort T. House (1935)
777 G Avenue, Coronado

Shipley, Phil House (1967)

Simons, Allan D. House Remodel (1983)
17538 El Vuelo Road, Rancho Santa Fe
*Remodel of Youngblood Residence

Smith, Harold House (1948)
Spindrift Drive

Styles, Hugh B. House (1953)
8545 Chevy Chase Drive

Sweetwater Women’s Club Building for Mrs. Hiram Horton (1934)
3855 Sweetwater Road, Bonita

Tait, M.E. House (1935)
4291 Van Dyke Place

Thompson, Marge House (1949)
Del Mar

Trenchard, Col. O.H.B. House (1936)
6126 Avenida Cresta

Tucker, Harry F. House (1936)
4366 Altamirano Way, Mission Hills

Vista Del Loma Model Home and Housing Tract (ca. 1955)
Homes can be found on the following streets: West Vista Way, North Melrose Drive, Santa Clara Drive, Amador Avenue, Yacon Street, Salina Court, Anns Way and Colusa Way.

Whalen House (1934-35)
3855 Sweetwater Road, Bonita

Wier, Maj. J.L. House (1945)
Warner Hot Springs

Wolfe, Col. And Mrs. Frank C. House (1945)
Valley Center

Woods, Cmdr. William House (1934)
7575 Hillside Drive, La Jolla

Woods, Dr. and Mrs. Ward Wilson House (1952)
La Jolla

Youngblood, James H. House (1972)
17538 El Vuelo, Rancho Santa Fe
*Historically designated. Drawings state 'Residence for Mr. & Mrs. J.H. Youngblood' by Cliff May Associates; published in San Diego Magazine in December 1984.