Sunset’s Western Ranch Houses by Cliff May

Sunset magazine was May’s first major promoter. After World War II, Sunset was the top selling magazine in and of the West. Each month Sunset presented topics for its male and female readers on travel, food, houses, and gardens. Beginning in 1944 Sunset devoted several major articles on the ranch house and Cliff May. In 1946, Sunset magazine published Sunset Western Ranch Houses in collaboration with May. The book consisted of forty-three ranch house plans designed by various architects and builders, however, Cliff May’s work dominated with at least seventeen designs. Sunset Western Ranch Houses found instant success: 50,000 copies sold and it went through four printings.

Throughout the late 1940s and into the 1950s Sunset continued to promote May’s ranch houses in magazine articles and by hiring him in 1951 to design their new corporate headquarters in Menlo Park. When completed, Sunset offered daily tours of its new 30,000 square-foot “suburban Western home” to the public and actively publicized it in their magazine. Clearly, May was one of the magazine’s favorite builders because in 1958 when Sunset produced Western Ranch Houses by Cliff May, it featured only his designs.  Both books were recently republished by Hennessey and Ingalls in Santa Monica.

To learn more about the history and design of houses by Cliff May, visit the About Cliff May page.

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