The Cliff May papers span 350 linear feet and date from circa 1931 to circa 1989. The collection is comprised of architectural
drawings and reprographic copies, clippings, correspondence, photographs, awards, financial records such as budgets and expense
reports organized by project, legal files, appointment books, one model, and ephemera.
Born in San Diego, Cliff May (1908-1989) was a sixth-generation Californian. He studied business at San Diego State College
from 1929-1931, but left without a diploma. After leaving San Diego State, May began building Monterey style furniture. Furniture
building led to building his first house with help from developer Roy Lichty, his father-in-law. Before May moved to Los Angeles,
in 1936, he had built 35 houses over a 5 year period in San Diego. Cliff May relocated to Los Angeles to work with financier
John A. Smith. Together they embarked on building and marketing May’s urban ranch house designs for Riviera Ranch, a subdivision
in West Los Angeles. By 1943, he had established a national reputation as a designer of custom California Ranch Houses. May
House Beautiful's Pace Setter Program, a series of exhibition houses, by designing the first Pace Setter House, which was built in Riviera
Ranch in 1948. As Cliff May Homes Incorporated, May sold low-cost ranch home plans to developers. May designed and built the
corporate headquarters for the Lane Publishing Company (
Sunset magazine) in Menlo Park and the Robert Mondavi winery in Rutherford, California. May maintained an active architectural practice in
Los Angeles until his death in 1989.