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Mid-Century Ranch Heaven Found in Cliff May's Lakewood Rancho Estates

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 at 9:24am.

Photograph by Cliff May; Cliff May Collection, Architecture and Design Collection, University of California, Santa Barbara © UC Regents // Source: http://www.pacificstandardtime.org

The resurgence of the Ranch style can be attributed to two kinds of people: young professionals who saw a stylish home they could afford, and retirees who adored the open layout and single story living. No wonder in the late 90s, a forgotten and almost stepchild neighborhood of Long Beach saw a revitalization like never before: The Cliff May Rancho's of Lakewood Rancho Estates suddenly became the hot place to buy. And, with its unique style and accessibility, it continues to be a highly sought-after neighborhood today. 

A Brief History of "The Rancho's"

Designed in the 1950s by notable architect Cliff May, "father of the Rancho," the style was born out of the need for affordable housing in the postwar era. After assembling a factory model on May's own property in Sullivan Canyon, one builder named Ross Cortese saw the vision and ordered 950 houses. In 1954, this group of homes became the Lakewood Rancho Estates.

The Cliff May Style

What makes homes in The Rancho's so distinctive is their Mid-Century Modern meets Ranch style architecture. The design was inspired by May's childhood U-shaped Adobe home and the early Californians’ desire for relaxation and peaceful seclusion. Back when Lakewood Rancho Estates was just advertising homes in their new community, phrases like “Western Contemporary Styling” and “The Sensational All New CALIFORNIAN” were splattered across billboards and brochures promoting this new modern ranch style, along with "Progress is our most important product." These homes quickly became known as the ultimate in 1950s contemporary spirit. 

The Rancho Estates serve as a perfect example of how outdoor spaces can often make a home feel much bigger - another Cliff May element. Set back from the street, their floor to ceiling glass doors actually bring the backyard into the living space, creating that true feeling of indoor/outdoor living so popular in California. These homes also showcase the revolutionary exterior walkway connecting the other rooms in the house, now considered a signature in the Mid-Century Ranch style. What had recently replaced the barn for a horse-drawn carriage, you'll find that the garage is on the side of these houses, which increased usage of the surrounding landscaping and has found its way into modern living.

Lakewood Rancho Estates Community

As a designated historic district by Long Beach Heritage, architectural tours from around the globe stop here to see the famous Cliff May community. This little nook is a lovely microcosm of the Mid-Century Modern Ranch aesthetic: connected to its surroundings, contained in a private and spacious layout, yet still very close to the community and its offerings. Lakewood Rancho Estates is very centrally located near a large shopping area, El Dorado Park, the Nature Preserve, Long Beach Airport and the city college. Not under any Homeowners Association, the community works together to sustain a certain level of style without putting restrictive conditions on the homeowners. 

Homes for Sale in Lakewood Rancho Estates

If Mid-Century Modern Ranch is your personal home style, this is certainly a Nook Neighborhood to pursue. Check out these featured Cliff May homes in The Rancho's, or view all Lakewood Rancho Estates homes for sale to find a gem that’s right for you. 

3120 Karen Avenue

3120 Karen Avenue Lakewood Rancho Estates

Courtesy of Douglas Kramer(01374637) of Re/Max R. E. Specialists

3235 Lees Avenue

3235 Lees Avenue Lakewood Rancho Estates

Courtesy of Kai Murphy(01910280) of Purplebricks Realty Inc.

7005 E Spring Street

7005 E Spring Street Lakewood Rancho Estates

Courtesy of Douglas Kramer(01374637) of Re/Max R. E. Specialists

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