Homes come in a plethora of architectural styles, from ranch to Craftsman, but here’s one with a particularly exotic history and challenging layout: a shotgun house. A shotgun house has a long, narrow layout in which each room leads to the next; in theory, you could shoot a bullet shot through the front door that would exit straight out the back (not that we’re advocating the use of firearms inside the house, of course).The wild history of shotgun housesShotgun houses were brought to the United States in the 18th and 19th century, as islanders in Haiti and the West Indies started settling in New Orleans, bringing this African architectural style with them. It spread northward from there, and while homes of this type are still most frequently found throughout the South, they can also be found in apartment form in major northern cities like New York and Chicago (where they’re usually called “railroad apartments” because their long, narrow layout is the size and shape of a railroad car).Over their long history, shotgun homes have gone in and out of fashion. Also known as “shotgun shacks,” they were once targeted for demolition in cities from New Orleans to Lexington and Covington, KY. Today, however, they are cherished as an integral part of our country’s architectural heritage and gaining popularity among home buyers, who embrace their simple charm.
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