Between the 21st and 23rd days of March in 1913, an extensive tornado outbreak spanning numerous states wreaked havoc in many areas. Omaha, Nebraska, was particularly hard-hit. Over 241 deaths were recorded, with injuries also in the hundreds. The tornado did not discriminate; the homes of both rich and poor were targeted. Churches and bars alike were destroyed. Estimates today claim the storm to have been either F4 or F5 in severity.

In perusing the images below, I was struck by the fact that the severity of the storm served to illustrate how much better construction was over a hundred years ago; few modern houses could survive an F4 as well as many of the houses in Omaha did. While many houses were, in fact, reduced to splinters, a good many of them held together fairly well considering the circumstances.

Many publishers and entrepreneurs were quick to document the damage with photographs and publish “souvenier” type books voyeuristically depicting the damage. Here are just a handful of those images as we look back one hundred and ten years to the day… an Easter Sunday.

A Craftsman bungalow was lifted from its foundation yet remained surprisingly intact where it was deposited. How many houses of recent construction could survive such treatment today?

The front gable wall of the center house has fallen onto the Colonial Revival porch while the Folk Victorian next door is leaning a bit.

Look at the depth of that wallpaper border in the exposed upstairs bedroom! A surviving pilaster suggests that this house was previously more overtly Queen Anne in style.

The massive Joslyn residence, built of limestone in the Scottish Baronial style, did not escape damage.

Not surprisingly, the Joslyn’s stunning greenhouse and carriage house were also impacted. How many modern greenhouses could hold up so well in such a storm?

That is one tough porch! Even with the columns blown away, the roof itself appears to have barely flinched!

The tower-like staircase bay has separated from this once-beautiful Queen Anne.

Despite its superior construction, this eclectic house received extensive damage.

After losing both its roof and foundation, this well-constructed Foursquare still managed to retain its boxy form despite being upside-down. I wonder how far it rolled?

This row of Mission Revival houses has received extensive roof damage but appears to have weathered fairly well below the roof.

These brick storefronts in North Omaha were especially hard-hit.

Remains of a pool hall which was in operation that Easter morning. Fourteen men lost their lives there. At the time, some whispered that this was just. However, the tornado also leveled 11 churches and killed numerous children including some at the “Child Saving Institute”, so the sentiment is kind of a hard sell.
Losses were still being counted in the days following the storm.

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