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A cover illustration for a 1940s textiles catalog pictures Mom, Dad and their preteen son gazing reverently upon their white clapboard home. In the sunbathed valley beyond, church steeples and a brick factory building rise from a sea of leafy trees. In the lower right, bold letters declare “A Good Way of Life.”
The publication bearing this striking image is one of more than 200 books, prints and objects in the Grolier Club’s captivating exhibition “Selling the Dwelling: The Books That Built America’s Houses, 1775-2000.” Appearing in a section called “The Homes We Fought For,” the image wonderfully captures a spirit of quasi-religious patriotism animating the dream of homeownership in mid-20th-century America.