The American Shotgun House: A Study of its Evolution and the Enduring Presence of the Vernacular in American Architecture
Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Science
Committee Member/Second Reader
This thesis investigates the evolution of the American shotgun house through plans, elevations and photographs to define the formal, architectural differences and similarities between contemporary shotgun houses of the 21st century and the traditional, historic shotgun houses of the late 19th and 20th centuries. More specifically, this study will explore whether or not the once distinct, vernacular shotgun house still exists as a vernacular housing type in its contemporary construction. Part one of the research process reviews the historic past of the shotgun house and determines the characteristics that compose the traditional, vernacular shotgun houses built in the United States as seen in chapters I and II of the thesis. This was done through the formal analysis of the shotgun houses found in America between the 1840s and the 1940s, prior to the Second World War when the housing typology began to experience significant, formal architectural changes leading to the construction of a new housing type, the contemporary shotgun house. After taking into consideration shotguns houses with multiple bays as well as camelback additions, select examples were compared to contemporary shotgun houses that have been constructed in the 21st century. Part two of the research determines the characteristics that comprise the contemporary shotgun houses constructed in the United States. Drawing principally on architectural historical methods of research, I proposed that the contemporary shotgun is one that while constructed of modern materials and technologies still evidences the influences of or retains organizational and formal qualities of the traditional American shotgun house. Chapter III of the thesis focuses on three contemporary shotgun iterations from the 21st century that best fit this description by possessing modern amenities but still having the essential qualities characteristic of the shotgun house. The three houses that retain such qualities include the Kiwi House in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by the architecture firm Plusone, co-owned by Daivd Baird (2011), the Kaplan House or Shot-trot in Houston, Texas by architect Brett Zamore (2001-2003) and the FLOAT House in New Orleans, Louisiana by Thom Mayne and Morphosis Architects for Brad Pittâ€™s Make It Right Foundation in collaboration with University of California, Los Angeles graduate students (2009). These three houses were analyzed extensively in plan, elevation and photographs as well as through site visits made to both New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Other works were also considered during the data analysis but the focus remained on the three abovementioned houses. Part three of the thesis shows the connections, similarities and differences between the contemporary shotgun house and the traditional typology using comparative analysis described below. The final phase of this research, presented in chapter IV, addresses the larger research question to determine whether or not the evolution and adaptation of the American shotgun house has transformed from a vernacular architecture to an architecture that fails to consider the immediate region and culture which voids the presence of vernacular qualities.
American shotgun house, vernacular architecture, architectural history
McRae, L. (2012). The American Shotgun House: A Study of its Evolution and the Enduring Presence of the Vernacular in American Architecture. Architecture Undergraduate Honors Theses Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/archuht/7