Cliff May-Architect...She Said...Part One

Mrs. C, an elderly friend living near 66th Terrace and Nall, Prairie Village KS kept saying her and her husband, Bob, had built a "Cliff May" house. It has redwood siding, heavy cedar shake roof and nice bones with lots of southside windows and a beautiful backyard. Though I am quite familiar with May's work, she convinced me enough to think they had a "Sunset" magazine house design. She showed me pictures in vintage magazines with Cabot's Ranch House Stains featuring May houses. I became very curious annd delved in deeper. As it turned out and after many attempts to see her house plans, I discovered the house was designed in 1954 by Linscott and Haylett, built by Wm. V. Powell Construction, who Mrs. C quoted as saying, "you don't want to live in a barn", and with that talked them out of vaulted ceilings. The house plans couldn't be found but a preliminary plan was found showing the house reversed with a front entry instead of a side entry garage. This is a great mid-century ranch, with private and public areas seperated nicely, both giving onto the wonderful rear terrace designed by Hare and Hare in 1959. The Hare and Hare landscape design firm did an extensive design for the terrace, pergola room and landscaping. I'll feature that in a future post...

1955 PARADE OF HOMES- Part Two

It's fun to live in a "Magazine Cover Home"...with color harmonized interiors personally selected by Cliff May. In 1955, Stanley Cowherd, Builder contracted to build five speculative houses near 77th and Lamar in Prairie Village, KS. These homes were part of a marketing thrust by Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and Cliff May, house designer, promoting a better lifestyle for less money through better design. The homes were priced from $20,000 to $25,000. The builder planned to build these homes in nearby communities, but as far as we know these were the only ones constructed. I talked to Stanley Cowherd's niece and she said he died in the 1980's and no one was left in the family that knew any details about his building and/or company. These are the only Cliff May homes in Kansas City that we know of. A large custom May design in Mission Hills, KS. was torn down a couple of years ago.
Above, the most lavish of the group and the parade model...check out the floor plan, the patio doubles the living area. The photo below shows how the house looks today from the south, note the "raised" roof done in the early 1980's(probably as an all-in-one "solution" to a tar and gravel roof replacement gaining added insulation and addressing the "market" concerns with low-pitched roofs), it partially conceals the clerestory windows. A popular design element at the time was the garage and carport combination.

Below, the house seen from the north...walled patio on the left.

Streetside a rule these homes were sited for the most privacy, light and ventilation...

For more info on Cliff May designed homes being built in 1955 check out: Be sure to check out the original home guide (found in the house featured in the blog below) and note May's kookie font on the brochure. Also check out
To see a blog about restoring one of these homes in Prairie Village, KS go to our friends' site at http://cliffmayremodel.blogspot,com/
or see Kansas City Home Remodel Blogs- Our Love of Cliff May