What Is A Shotgun House Floor Plan?
What Is A Shotgun House Floor Plan?
A shotgun house is a narrow, rectangular home with rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end. It was a popular style in the Southern United States from the end of the Civil War to the 1920s and is known by various names such as shotgun shack, hut, and cottage.
The origins of the design may be traced back to Africa and Saint Domingue influences in New Orleans, but it can also be found in other parts of the country. Despite initial popularity among the middle class, it later became a symbol of poverty.
In recent years, some have been destroyed while others have been renovated as a result of gentrification and historic preservation efforts. Variations of the design include “double-barrel” or “double” houses and “camelback” houses with a second floor at the rear.
Some have also been updated with indoor plumbing and have undergone floor plan changes during remodeling.
History Of The Shotgun House
The origin of the term “shotgun house” and the architectural style of the house is debated. Some suggest it originated in the Creole suburbs of New Orleans in the early 1800s, with the term “shotgun” referring to the idea that a shotgun blast fired into the house from the front doorway will fly through all the rooms and out the back.
Others argue that the style and name trace back to Haiti and Africa during the 18th century, with the name possibly stemming from a Dahomey Fon term meaning “place of assembly.” There is also the theory that it is simply a one-room-deep floor plan popular in the rural south, rotated to fit narrow city lots.
The style was popularized in New Orleans and was commonly used in hot urban areas in the South due to its excellent airflow and ability to fit more houses on narrow streets.
The earliest known use of the name “shotgun house” was in a classified advertisement in 1903, but by 1929 they were considered low-income housing and their popularity declined after the Great Depression. In recent years, some shotgun houses have been restored and repurposed.
Characteristics Of A Shotgun House
A shotgun house typically has rooms arranged in a straight line, with the living room at the front, followed by one or two bedrooms, and finally the kitchen in the back.
Bathrooms were not originally included, but were later added either as a small hall before the last room or as a side addition to the kitchen. Some houses have only two rooms.
The interior chimneys allow the front and middle rooms to share a fireplace, and the kitchen has its own chimney. These houses are typically close to the street, with a short front yard and a raised foundation. They have a single door and window in the front, and often a side door leading to the back room.
The walls may or may not have windows, and the roof usually overhangs the front wall. The rooms have high ceilings and efficient cross-ventilation, and can be decorated with moldings and woodwork. In places like New Orleans, mass-produced ornaments were available to homeowners of modest means.
Variations On The Traditional Shotgun House Design
The Double Shotgun is a more space-efficient variation of the traditional Shotgun house that was commonly built in poorer areas due to its ability to be constructed with fewer materials and take up less land per person. It was first seen in New Orleans in 1854.
The Camelback house, also known as the Humpback, is a later variation of the Shotgun that features a partial second floor over the rear of the house. It is similar in floor plan and construction to the traditional Shotgun, but with the addition of stairs leading to the second floor.
The second floor, or “hump”, can contain one to four rooms. Due to its partial second story, most cities only taxed it as a single-story house, making it an attractive option for builders.
The Double Camelback Shotgun is a combination of the Double Shotgun and Camelback, with the addition of a side door to the kitchen or a porch along the side. The North Shore house is a variation of the Shotgun house that features wide verandas on three sides.
They were popularly built as summer homes for wealthy whites on the north shore of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Owning A Shotgun House
A Shotgun house is a type of abode in which each room flows directly into the next, often without hallways or foyers. It is an iconic feature of American architecture and can be found in cities across the country. While owning a Shotgun house has its advantages, it also comes with some drawbacks.
On the upside, these homes are usually less expensive than traditional houses because they have fewer walls and require less material to construct.
Additionally, their unique floor plan allows for more natural light and can create interesting interior design possibilities that allow you to express your personal style.
However, this kind of home also has some downsides such as a lack of privacy among inhabitants due to the open-concept layout and inefficient use of space, leading to cramped living conditions at times.
Homes with a shotgun layout were commonly built during the 19th and early 20th centuries, which may indicate that they are made with older materials. As a result, these older homes typically require more maintenance due to wear and tear over time.