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Cliff May & Wilburn Hale collection donated to SOHO

Long lost working blueprints of San Diego master designer and father of the American Ranch House have been donated to SOHO by the granddaughter of Wilburn Hale, Mary Neal who had saved them her entire life waiting in her words "for the right home for them."

Cliff May is one of San Diego's most famous figures in the architecture world and most of his personal belongings are held at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art special collections, which were donated by the May family.

May publically credited his head carpenter Wilburn Hale with teaching him the craft of house building and for the formative years of his career, indeed Hale was the foreman and May's right hand man. His name appears on Cliff May's quality of workmanship certificates that homeowners received upon completion of a home.

It is the Hale/Neal family that for over 80 years saved not only the rare blueprints that provide important information for scholars and architects but incredibly the actual carpenter tools that were used to build these homes that are of such national prominence.

Blueprints include sixteen San Diego homes and eight in Los Angeles. Several contain changes drawn in onsite and there are several designs of his rarely seen but often described furniture as well.

The tool collection is contained within several hand made tool chests.

Note SOHO is seeking funds for archival supplies and volunteers with an interest specifically in antique carpentry tools. Volunteer duties would include cataloguing and researching tools, determining condition and proper restoration treatments where applicable, building a database, and would also include oral history interview sessions with the family.

Volume 42 - 2011

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Lost San Diego


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Donations 2010-2011


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