7. December 2012 14:46
San Diego’s legacy neighborhoods, including La Jolla, Mission Hills, Kensington, Talmadge and Coronado, feature some fine specimens of architect Cliff May. The homes are sought after by architectural enthusiasts. Fantastic curb appeal and vintage charm define these structures built between 1932 to 1980.
A decision early in May’s life may not have afforded thousands of southern California homeowners the joy of living in a Cliff May home. He started out with a love of music, and played the saxophone. He had a band that was formed when he was in high school, the Cliff May Orchestra. They were quite popular, and landed gigs at the El Cortez Hotel, the Hotel del Coronado and the Cocoanut Grove in LA. In 1927 the Cliff May Orchestra played at the Hotel del Coronado for Charles Lindbergh at a celebration of the aviators solo flight across the Atlantic. What appeared to be an obvious career path changed drastically when his father encouraged him to enroll in college and give up the band. He only lasted 2 years in college, but in that brief time he designed and built furniture. May married the daughter of a prominent San Diego builder, Roy C. Lichty. It was Lichty the builder that helped May transition into the master architect that would define an iconic California style in home design.
May’s signature design stroke was the birth of the California ranch house, with a large entry courtyard complimenting a U-shaped house. Essentially, all the rooms of the house had direct access to the courtyard. Other highlights: red tiles haphazardly placed one on top of the other on the roof, a terra cota pot on top of the chimneys, wooden window grilles, rough hewn wood lintels over windows and doors both inside and out, and thick wooden garage doors. Cliff May was offered a business collaborative based in Los Angeles, which he accepted and in 1938 his home building business was born and thrived for decades. He passed away in 1989 but his vision will live on for years to come.
16. December 2011 11:09
Four years is a long time to wait for a home. Neighbors of mine began the house search with me in 2007, initially focused in Coronado because of the excellent school system. Their adorable daughter referred to our house hunting as “looking for a yard house”, because she was born & raised in a condominium. After a 6-month search, they concluded Coronado inventory was too limited for what they needed. The next step was to sell their existing property, a luxury 3 bedroom condo on the 18th floor at Renaissance in downtown San Diego’s Marina District. The condo was completely remodeled in 2004 and offered views of the Pacific Ocean, San Diego Bay, Coronado, Point Loma & the downtown skyline. In the winter, snow-capped Cuyamaca Peak in the Laguna Mountains was clearly visible. Problem is, the market was soft back then for luxury property. To add insult to injury, the Renaissance filed a construction defect lawsuit against the developer, as is customary within the 10-year statute of limitations; Renaissance was built in 2002. So, with a soft market, a lawsuit, plus time off the market for a 2nd baby, and time off the market during the holidays, we sold the condo in March of this year. Now it was crunch time – with vigor we searched resale homes in Mission Hills, Point Loma, Carmel Valley & Del Mar, and then brand new construction in Del Sur and 4S Ranch. The resale's were attractive because they were move in ready. Brand new construction was essentially a customized home. Despite a 9-month construction timeline, which meant they would have to rent a home until the new one was built, that is the path they chose. Del Sur’s highly-prized school system was the icing on the cake. So, four years later, we closed escrow on their beautiful “yard home”. Thus begins an exciting chapter for this young family in a brand new home in time for the holidays.