Shotgun House

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Shotgun House

Long and narrow, shotgun houses are made to fit small city building lots. Only one room wide, these homes pack a lot of living into a narrow space.

Features Include:

  • The entire house is no wider than 12 feet (3.5 meters)
  • Rooms are arranged in a single row, without hallways
  • The living room is at the front, with bedrooms and kitchen behind
  • The house has two doors, one at the front and one at the rear
  • A long pitched roof provides natural ventilation
  • The house may rest on stilts to prevent flood damage

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Shotgun houses were most popular before widespread ownership of the automobile allowed people to live farther from businesses and other destinations. Building lots were small, 30 feet (9 m) wide at most. An influx of people to cities, both from rural areas in America and from foreign countries, all looking to fill emerging manufacturing jobs, created the high demand for housing in cities. Shotgun houses were thus built to fulfill the same need as rowhouses in Northeastern cities.

The New Orleans housing taxation structure contributed to the design of the shotgun in its region. The shotgun utilized a minimized lot frontage, when taxes were based on lot frontage, then when that was subverted by un-taxable second floor additions of space AKA the "Camelback", the tax was shifted to number of rooms, which equalized the taxation per square footage within a property.Consequently, neither design contains closets or hallways, which were counted as rooms.

Shotgun houses have been built since the time of the Civil War. The economical style became popular in many southern towns, especially New Orleans. Shotgun houses and Creole cottages became models for economical, energy-efficient Katrina Cottages designed after Hurricane Katrina devastated so many neighborhoods in New Orleans and the Mississippi Valley.

McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide To American Houses. New York, Alfred A. Knopf: 1984.
“House Styles, Picture Dictionary of Houses in North America and Beyond” About .com. Mar 1 2013 <>
Architectural Style Wikipedia. Mar 1 2013. <>


Last modified on Wednesday, 28 September 2016 05:21
Mark Smith

Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Mark Smith and my design company is located in Stevensville, Michigan where I reside with my wife and two children. 

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Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Mark Smith and I reside in Stevensville, Michigan my wife and two children. I have been interested in Architecture since my boyhood days; however, because of my families business—a lumberyard—I never really got a chance to pursue my dream until later in my career. Read more...


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