In 2000, the Johnstown Flood Museum expanded its permanent exhibits with the addition of an original "Oklahoma" house, one of the first types of temporary houses erected to shelter the people left homeless by the flood. Originally manufactured for homesteaders in the Oklahoma Territory, these buildings were a very early example of prefabricated housing. The one-and-a-half story temporary houses were developed in Chicago and came in two sizes -- 16-by-24 feet and 10-by-20 feet. Many Johnstown families combined one large and one small Oklahoma to accommodate their needs. The houses were not attractive -- nor were they suitable for the harsh Southwestern Pennsylvania winters. A reporter from the Harrisburg Telegraph, after seeing one of the small structures, described it as ". . . a shell-like affair of drab color and has about as many points of architectural beauty as the coal shed behind a country school house." The museum's Oklahoma house was located in the City's historic Moxham neighborhood, where it was discovered after its porch caught on fire several years ago. The house shared a lot with a larger residence, which had been acquired by Habitat for Humanity. When informed of the historical significance of the smaller structure, Habitat for Humanity donated the house to the Johnstown Area Heritage Association. The Oklahoma House was moved from the Moxham neighborhood and placed on an existing patio adjacent to the museum.
The Oklahoma was renovated for its inclusion in the museum's exhibit. A wood shingle roof was installed, several exterior clapboards were replaced, and the exterior was painted. The Oklahoma provides a perfect venue for the museum to exhibit its comprehensive collection documenting the recovery efforts after the Great Flood, which includes home furnishings and domestic items provided by the American Red Cross and other agencies that helped the survivors of the disaster.
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