Monday, November 2, 2009

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

1 comment:

Atom said...

Quite curious myself as to why Cowherd only built 5 of Cliff May’s houses in Kansas City, I pulled whatever I could find about Kansas City while visiting the Cliff May archive at the Art, Design, & Architecture Museum at UC Santa Barbara last week . . . and although the file was pretty thin, I discovered that Cliff May and Miller Nichols (of J.C. Nichols) corresponded with some regularity. Nichols was VERY fond of May’s work, expressing great interest in bringing May’s designs for the Sunset Magazine headquarters to Kansas City some way; and was also keenly interested in building a tract of Cliff May’s low-cost ranch homes. Unfortunately, Nichols said that he could not convince his architectural department that it was a good idea, and ended up having to tell May that he would not be able to build any houses, but that he hoped another developer would bring the houses to Kansas City instead. As we know, Cowherd ended up being that developer. Although he didn’t touch upon it in great detail, in a later letter, Nichols surmised that the houses had ended up being too expensive for the Kansas City market, and he doubted Cowherd’s ability to successfully erect any more of them. If you’re interested in seeing Nichols‘ letters, feel free to write me at, and I will send them along to you!