Cliff May and the John A. Smith House

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In August 1933, Cliff May completed his third house.  As he did previously, May held open houses to sell the new home.  During one of the open houses, C. Arnholt Smith, a San Diego banker, toured the home.  Impressed, Arnholt convinced his older brother, John, to see it.  An oil promoter, John and his wife Flossie were planning to build a house in the “country.”  May describes the visit in his oral history: “He came in a big Pierce-Arrow. . . .  I had a good time showing them [John and Flossie Smith] the house.  He told me he had this property in La Habra.  I gulped hard and said I’d design it for him . . . for $500.”  John Smith hired May.   From 1934 to 1936, May worked on the Smith house located at 760 Via Miguel in La Habra Heights.

Similar to his early San Diego designs, the U-shaped house sits on a hill overlooking the valley and is beautifully maintained by its current owners.

The significance of the house?  While working on the home, John Smith recognized Cliff May’s talent for designing and building houses.  Smith convinced May to move his business from San Diego to Los Angeles where his career flourished as the “Designer of the Dream: the California Ranch House.”

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