2011 Weekend on Cliff May’s Early Houses
Mary and I had a wonderful weekend in March discussing, visiting, and exploring Cliff May’s homes in San Diego, thanks to the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), who put together a memorable series of events. On Saturday, March 26, Mary presented her latest research on Cliff May’s life in San Diego in the historic Adobe Chapel in Old Town San Diego, we enjoyed Melinda Gandara’s talk on May’s promotional tactics drawing from the rich collections at UC Santa Barbara (I kept saying, “where did she get that image!?”), and chatted with Cliff May homeowners and a couple of May’s children, then wandered through the Estudillo Adobe (which was one of May’s inspirations), and went shopping at the Whaley House, where there were lots of books on Cliff May and the Spanish colonial revival on sale, as well as really cool commemorative paperweights by ERF Tiles based on the doorbells of May’s houses. That evening we enjoyed a cocktail party in a courtyard surrounded by a Cliff May house in Coronado–boy, these houses are ideal for parties.
Sunday’s tour was sold out with a 1,000 people visiting a half-dozen Cliff May houses in Presidio Hills, Loma Portal, and Talmadge Park areas of San Diego on an picture perfect day. It was a real treat to see the interiors of his first two houses–O’Leary at 4725 Norman Drive and Lindstrom at 4669 East Talmadge Drive–and helped us refine our analysis of May’s early work. 3130 Shadowlawn was a nice surprise because it’s furnished appropriately for the period and has lots of May’s unusual window grilles. The Highland House at 2400 Presidio Drive shows how quickly May improved upon his design (plus the gardens by Dinah Grisdale are stunning). Research on the house at 3625 Dupont Street in Point Loma is still ongoing, and while we’re not convinced it’s by Cliff May, other are. The house at 4366 Altamirano Way is for sale for those are looking for vintage Cliff May at $1.6 million (these don’t come very often; this one last sold in 1949!). The tour was accompanied a full color illustrated booklet with lots of history and historic images and documents, so if you weren’t able to attend, contact SOHO to see if copies are available.