Saved buildings
save our heritage organisation logo

Yahoo  MSN  Google

The Ranch House

Reprinted in part with permission from Old House Journal, October 1998

California architect Cliff May (1909-1989) is credited with the first modern ranch, built in San Diego in 1932. A prolific designer and promoter, May sold the style he called the early California ranch house throughout the West.

Consciously interpreting the ranchos of the mid nineteeth century, May spoke not only about the architectural form, but also about the casual, family-oriented culture of the early (Mexican) Californians, whose gallant hospitality was legendary. Working in tandem with landscape architects, May designed low houses that followed the contours of the land, enclosing a courtyard or patio with carefully planned views of nature.

Floorplans were open, always with a family room. By the mid-'30s, his ranch houses had been published by Sunset magazine and elsewhere.

The early ranch maintained integrity even as the idea spread to other climates and suburban lots. These traits make a true ranch: ground-hugging, with a low roof and deep eaves; built of local materials (wood, stucco, brick, or stone); anonymous to the street, open to gardens in back; generally one room deep; shaped like an L or U (or splayed) to surround a patio and landscape features; expanses of glass; frank inclusion of cars, children's play areas, etc.

Above Inner courtyard of Barbara and Lee Roper's Cliff May home. Photo by Sandé Lollis

2001 - Volume 32, Issue 3


VIEW digital online version

Baton Passes to SOHO for Neon Majorette

Old San Diego Police Headquarters

President's Message

Executive Director Report

Hotel Del Coronado Continuing Saga

Historic Hotel San Diego Awaits the Wrecking Ball

Threat to Agua Caliente

We Called it Caliente

County Historic Site Board Reinstated

Mills Act Notice

Volunteer Appreciation Party

Aztec Brewery Art & Artifact Ensemble

Heritage Park Gets a Facelift

The Ranch House

The Whaley House

Help Furnish the Whaley House

Volunteers Make the Difference

Whaley House Garden Update

SOHO Museum Shop at the Whaley House Grand Opening

Heritage Tourism

Welcome Ranger Berry

Letter to the Editors

In Memorium

Contributors to Success

VIEW digital online version

DOWNLOAD full magazine as pdf (6.4mb)


2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-9327
Home | Contact