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History hints that this downturn could change our tastes. Homes built in the 1940s and '50s, for example, were usually smaller and simpler than large, frilly Victorians that had been in style before the Great Depression and World War II. Materials remained scarce for years after the war, and returning veterans, boosted by mortgage assistance provided under the GI Bill of Rights of 1944, bought Levittowns full of simple new houses as quickly as they could be made.

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