modern ‘hood: cliff may’s rancho estates

Orange and gray modern ranch

If I ever build a house, I’ll drop a stack of Cliff May home photos on my architect’s desk for inspiration. In southern California, May was a pioneer of building characteristics that we think of today as the hallmarks of midcentury modern ranches — clean lines, open floor plans, and an indoor-outdoor feel. So on a recent trip to Los Angeles for Andrea’s work, we spent an afternoon in Long Beach cruising May’s Rancho Estates tract neighborhood, built in 1953-54.

The Rancho homes have opaque facades and high privacy fences that reveal little about their interiors. If you’re nosy curious like I am, you can mine real estate sites such as Rancho Style for photos of light-soaked rooms, swanky pools, and lush courtyards. Although I had to imagine what modern treasures lay beyond the walls, I gleefully shot the sculptural plants, rock gardens, colorful gates, and vintage cars visible from the street. Unless otherwise noted, all photos were taken by me from public property.

Photo via
Photo via
Photo via
Photo via

Charcoal and yellow ranch home

Modern concrete and stone courtyard with red gate

click for 6 more home photos

Green Rancho Estate home

White and glass gate on ranch home

Antique truck in front of ranch home

Sculptural iron gate on ranch home

Aqua and glass modern gate

Pompom juniper in front of ranch home


3 thoughts on “modern ‘hood: cliff may’s rancho estates”

  1. Excellent homes. I grew up (partially) in a place called Hayward in No. California where there happened to be a number of mid century modern, ranch-style homes. I have a soft spot for this architecture, to be sure!

  2. Thanks for the post about our neighborhood! I’m the house with the red doors & block fence 🙂

  3. You’re welcome, Rachel! I didn’t get to see the whole neighborhood, so I’ll definitely be back. I love your rock garden!

Comments are closed.