Antedating of "shotgun house" 1903

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Apr 10 04:31:54 UTC 2004

>A further question--were these cheap, usually straight houses truly called
>that because a shot fired through the front door would go out the rear
>door?  That is suggested in a 1941 DARE cite.

I doubt it. Probably the dwelling was likened to a shotgun because it was
long and narrow, essentially tubular in layout, like a shotgun barrel. I
would suppose further that this floor plan was often reduplicated as a
duplex or "row house", thus likened to a shotgun with two almost-identical
side-by-side barrels. Just speculation.

I've heard "shotgun apartment" more often than "shotgun house" (I'm from up
north). People talking about poor housing (usually down south) would refer
to "shotgun shacks", with nice alliteration which may have favored the name.

"Shotgun apartment" is about the same as "railroad apartment", I think. Why
"railroad"? Because a train could go straight through? I doubt it. Because
the rooms are lined up like railroad cars? Maybe. Because railroad employee
housing in the old days featured such a floor plan? Maybe. Just speculation.

-- Doug Wilson

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