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The shotgun house: a brief history of diffusion

Throughout the annals of america, each culture group has developed or altered its set of diagnostic traits in an attempt to adapt to their new environment. The plantation South developed the top plantation house with tall windows and protected porches. The North developed log enclosure structures early on and finally sawn timber body housing. While the Pennsylvania cities still built-in red brick, tenement style housing layouts. Even the Native Americans are named having specific cover styles like tee-pees and long homes. However it wasn't until the twentieth century that African People in the usa started out to be associated with a housing style. The shotgun house is believed to are suffering from from housing styles taken to America by African slaves. The shotgun house can be easily identified by its distinctive form. The shotgun house is only one room extensive with least three rooms deep with the gable and door facing the street. The shotgun house is given its name by this specific design characteristic. Although no-one is quite sure where the term originated from, the theory is quite clear, "when looking at the entrance, one can see through the back exit, thereby making it possible to fire a shotgun the entire length of the home".

The historical development of the shotgun house can be traced back to Western Africa and the Yoruba. Corresponding to John M. Vlach, the Yoruba dwelling is similar in both size and shape to slave huts found in Haiti. The Yoruba of current Nigeria were carried to Haiti via the French slave trade where these were sold to work the glucose plantations. The Yoruba house was manufactured from mud and acquired a thatched roofing with two rooms missing a dividing door. Vlach notes that the kitchen was the first room to be got into with the other room used as a bedroom. This design is very similar to that within Haiti. However the Haitian shotgun house was customized by the slaves to better suit their new needs. The slaves added a porch and relocated the door to the slim side of the house. As Vlach highlights, the Arawak Indians of Haiti also acquired a property style just a little similar compared to that of the Yoruba. The difference was the positioning of the door and the addition of a porch. Most geographers presumed that the shotgun house developed from the Arawaks, it was not until Vlach that the search for its origin discovered Africa as its homeland.

The shotgun house transformed greatly once in Haiti. The ground plan was extended to have three or four rooms in succession and waddle and daub structure was discarded for real wood frame building. Vlach boasts that the utilization of large timbers reduced the amount of materials required to construct a strong house. The framework was then either protected with vertical planks or brick was laid between your frameworks of the house, creating an cosmetic appeal. While development ways of the shotgun house were producing so were the designs. The essential shotgun house has a steeply pitched roofing that allows for large ceilings and the looks of more space. Starting in the past due 1800s, shotgun houses started to be constructed with a hallway working down one side of the home. It is also notable that oftentimes the hallway had not been interior. It was simply a elevated, protected walkway that led from the front aside door at the back of the house. The inside hallway probably developed from a specific outside walkway.

Other versions of the shotgun house began to develop after the mass influx of free blacks into Louisiana following a St. Domingo revolt. After the shotgun house gets to the areas it centers upon New Orleans and radiates across Louisiana following a bayous. In Fred B. Kniffen's research on the distribution of house types in Louisiana, he finds shotgun houses extending far up the Ouachita and Red Rivers into Northwest Louisiana. Most design innovations were due to having less space in an urban setting. Based on the Encyclopedia of Louisiana, the "standard city great deal size of 30 legs by 120 legs" limited the residents to only certain styles of housing. One such development to the problem was the camelback shotgun house where in fact the back rooms of the house are two reviews. This design allowed for enlargement of the house within the relatively cramped metropolitan plenty. Another development was the two times shotgun house where two shotguns talk about a center wall membrane. These are the most common style found in New Orleans and are found generally as rows of indistinguishable residences where speculative builders built many of the same house. The 3rd major deviation is the north shore shotgun house or the united states shotgun house. The north shoreline shotgun house gets its name from it being found mostly across the North shore of Lake Ponchetrain. The north shore shotgun lacks the frills of the urban shotgun houses and has a quality porch that wraps around three edges of the home. It is also shaped just like a "T" because either leading or returning room is larger than the others wide to be able to intersect the porch. This is most likely in order to keep the rectangular design of the house. These principal designs became more intricate in the cities but remained reasonably basic in the rural regions of Louisiana. Industry started to work with shotgun houses for company towns starting after Reconstruction. George O. Carney claims that industry liked the shotgun house since it could be "quickly assembled, it required neither blueprints nor skilled carpenters, it used locally available and inexpensive materials, and it was lightweight and durable. " These characteristics made the shotgun house well suited for mass production as company cover and its own portability allowed the towns to go with the resources.

A major contributor to the spread of the shotgun house after Reconstruction was the extending lumber industry. The lumber industry permanently altered the landscaping and culture of Louisiana. George A. Stokes points out that "by 1904 more than 2, 000 kilometers of logging railroads had been built-in the South". The lumber industry became the primary employer in European Louisiana during the early on twentieth century. Along with the growth of the lumber industry came sawmills that used large numbers of men. Consequently, company cities would form around the sawmills in order to aid the employees. Company cities were built and ran by the lumber companies that have been always looking to save money. Because of this, the shotgun house and the bungalow were implemented as two kinds of cheap housing. The immense way to obtain sawn lumber provided by the sawmill combined with the simple design of the houses allowed for speedy construction of the company cities. Many company towns were segregated by competition. African Us citizens were often placed in shotgun properties that were badly covered. The whites and skilled laborers resided in bungalows that have been more spacious and not as drafty. However these properties were well built and most of them are still inhabited today. Company cities would move with the railroads which allowed for the quick diffusion of shotgun residences across large areas. Stokes notes that "the shotgun house was built in the logging camps as well as the business towns". A possible reason that shotgun residences conform to such strict size requirements is that lots of shotgun houses were migrated by rail in one location to another. The long and slim design is much more well suited for transportation by rail than the other property styles utilized by lumber companies. Stokes promises that two shotgun house designs were found in Louisiana logging camps, one style was designed to be lightweight, the other was modeled after the France and migrated its way north. As well as the extension of shotgun residences by lumber companies, Kniffen claims that the shotgun properties found over the bayous have characteristics tying those to sportfishing and trapping. Overall economy along the waterways evolved a long time before the railroads stretched through Louisiana. The cheap shotgun house probably adopted the bayous because of this. The prosperous built large properties in places or on large acreages, the ones that made their living from the waterways built cheap, small and near to water so that misused money could be reduced.

Learning from the lumber companies, petrol companies also adopted shotgun properties as a cost effective form of cover. The engine oil field company towns were in lots of ways identical to their lumber industry counterparts. The essential oil rigs required men to use them and unlike sawmills, there may be tens to hundreds of rigs working out of one company town. The shotgun house flooded into Oklahoma through the 1905 Glenn Pool oilfield boom. However, shotgun residences in Oklahoma can be followed back to the mid-1800s. Matching to Carney, it is because "black slaves arrived to Indian Territory with the Five Civilized Tribes in the 1830s". It has already been established by Vlach and Kniffen that shotgun homes were produced by African slaves from the designs of the Arawak and Yoruba tribes. The slaves helped bring by the Five Civilized Tribes brought their enclosure style with them and it became established as a cheap form of casing. The engine oil field turned the simple slave shack into one of the most dominant house varieties in Oklahoma, East Tx and even Southwest Arkansas. The olive oil field did adjust the house for it to be better suited to the tough winds of Oklahoma. John Morris points out that "rather than the roofs being pointed, they are circular in form" which allowed for a minimal pitched roofing which reduced blowing wind resistance and construction costs. Lots of the essential oil field shotgun homes, like the lumber industry shotgun houses, were well constructed and remain used today. Some have been relocated because of the simple portability while others developed their own small town communities.

Shotgun properties and variations of them are also found in Northeast Arkansas and North Carolina. The shotgun variants in NEW YORK only minutely symbolize the shotgun properties of Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tx. The North Carolina shotgun house developed from casing innovations made by Europeans. Michael Ann Williams writes that "as community members turned from plantation work to job in the mines, vertical-plank structure was adopted". Vertical-plank engineering was common in many shotgun houses in both Haiti and Louisiana. The building strategy was rather cheap and an abundance of lumber allowed because of this style to get popularity. In North Carolina such as Louisiana and Oklahoma, the shotgun house design of construction was found in many company towns, mainly at the mines. A description by Morris of shotgun building routines in Seminole, Oklahoma web links the NEW YORK building practice with the engine oil field shotgun houses in Oklahoma. Morris says that "the properties are made of planks nailed vertically" which is also just how NEW YORK company homes are described. The shotgun residences within Arkansas are also associated with industry. Articles by Richard Burns up highlights the Performer Sewing Machine Company (SSMC) town of Trumann, Arkansas. The SSMC first started "building shotgun residences in the 1920s" matching to Burns. Many of these houses are still being used even following the SSMC shut its plant in Trumann. The shotgun houses in Trumann are well developed and were designed to provide housing for quite some time. Just like the lumber companies, the SSMC possessed their own logging company and therefore shotgun house development in Trumann was vertically included. Like the engine oil boom-towns and logging camps, Trumann's shotgun residences have also migrated around and spread out over the years.

The diffusion of shotgun houses across a wide range of the Mid-west and South has allowed for most types of people to inhabit them. One common theme however is the fact shotgun houses are primarily within poor, all-black neighborhoods. The shotgun house, like the manufactured home, is just about the icon of the poor lower-classes. However some shotgun homes like those in Trumann and New Orleans have been assimilated in to the middle-class neighborhoods. Many shotgun homes have been changed to more appealing areas and also have been reconditioned. Pursuing Hurricane Katrina, many New Orleans shotgun houses were rebuilt and kept up to date by middle-class citizens. The trend is still unfortunately following that of 100 years ago. The urban shotgun houses have become attractive to purchasers as the rural ones are entrenched in poverty. The shotgun house has been replaced by the made home in nearly every circumstance and company towns no longer form along the rails. The shotgun house is still clinging to its wealthy record and survives in historical districts like New Orleans and Trumann as well as in the rural backcountry of the low Mississippi river drainage basin.


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