In what I refer to as my past life, I was a Department of Defense civilian employee. I worked on the Presidio of San Francisco, primarily in Public Affairs. Behind our building was the U.S. Army Museum, and behind that building were two small green huts, about 8’x8′ square. These were the last two earthquake cottages built for displaced San Franciscans after the 1906 earthquake.
If you read In The Eye of The Storm or Through the Opera Glass, you will have seen references to these little buildings. Claire, Veronique, and their neighbor Maeve share one near to the U.S. Army Hospital (the building that eventually became the museum) because Claire is volunteering there in the aftermath of the disaster after her family is displaced.
The Army’s Department of Lands and Buildings built literally hundreds of these little houses in the wake of the earthquake, and also managed two tent cities: one on the Presidio and one in Golden Gate Park. The earthquake villages, which were scattered all over the city, were patrolled by military police, and the denizens were fed. Often it was just earthquake stew, which was heavy on potatoes and light on meat (I’ve had it), but it was nourishing.
After the Presidio of San Francisco was closed as a military base, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area became the new landlords. The two remaining earthquake cottages were moved to the San Francisco Zoo’s Conservation Corner.