The Most Pretentious Home

How To Advertise a House – 1926 Style

This is an ad from a copy of the October 10, 1926 Sunday New York Times. An odd choice of words to sell a home.

Larchmont is a wealthy suburb 25 miles north of New York City.

This ad has me pondering numerous questions:

I wonder if this home sold quickly because the H.M. Williams copywriting team knew the word  “pretentious” would appeal to that special, up and coming snob who wanted to live in a pretentious home?

Even in 1926 wasn’t it demeaning if you admitted that you lived in the most pretentious home in Larchmont? Maybe it was bad, only if other people said it about you or your home?

If this house still exists in 2011, do the current owners know how it was once advertised?

Does anyone out there from Larchmont recognize the house and if so can you drop us a line with the street address?

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1 thought on “The Most Pretentious Home

  1. Mary Twitchell

    Enjoyed this!

    In the 70s, I saw an ad in a Bakersfield CA paper for a home that was titled “Pretentious Gracious Living.” I always thought the owners were wonderfully ignorant, but apparently as your ad attests, this word was used in a positive way in some areas in the Midwest. (I just saw a newspaper column from a 1915 Adrian, Michigan paper describing a “pretentious home” in Washington that Wilson’s secretary of state occupied.) Who knew?

    The same thing seems to be happening with the word “verbiage.” Always a negative word in my world, but now (perhaps because printers use this) it seems to have a neutral meaning. “Preserve my verbiage,” a woman told me when I was editing something she’d contributed to an alumnae book.


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