Shotgun House Floor Plan The Revival Of A Traditional Southern Housing Style

By Rebecca Welch

Found throughout the American South, the shotgun house floor plan has its roots in West Africa and the Caribbean. Fleeing the revolution in the 1800s, Hatians introduced the long, narrow houses to New Orleans and their popularity quickly spread to mill towns and cotten plantations all over the South.

The shotgun house floor plan may the the only African American house plan that exists. Although the name sounds as though it was dreamed up by the National Rifle Association, the shotgun house was so named because of the liner arrangement of its rooms. In theroy, you should be able to fire a bullet through the front door and it would go through the house and straight out the back door.

Long associated with poverty, the shotgun house floor plan is now becoming respectable and even chic in some cities older districts. Architects, artists and community groups are working hard to restore the old homes into designer homes as symbols of both black and local heritage and pride. The shotgun house floor plan is the latest cause in the fight to preserve and restore some inner city communities.


With their typical one room wide and 3 or 4 rooms deep design uninterrupted by hallways, shotgun house floor plans can be as simplistic as a child’s drawing while retaining the integrity than many other floor plans don’t possess. Raised on piers, shotgun house floor plans allow for air circulation both under the house and as a cross-ventilating breeze. This design is well suited for the Southern climate. Porches provide much needed shade from the sun and encourage interaction between neighbors.

Though in the past shotgun house floor plans have been equated with slum areas, community groups in Houston, Texas are working hard to rennovate the remaining shotguns houses in the inner city areas of the Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Ward. The largest concentration of shotgun house floor plans were in a historic section of the Fourth Ward between downtown Houston and River Oaks called “Freedman’s Town”. The first preservation ordinance was passed a mere five years ago to preserve the 30 remaining shotgun houses in the area. Most had already been torn down and replaced with larger homes.

Many people living in the area want to see the old shotgun houses refurbished though there is some dispute as to the true historic value of these old homes. The shotgun house floor plan is an important part of African American history and should be preserved as a symbol of pride and survival.

About the Author: Rebecca Welch is the owner of

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