The shotgun single is a rectangular house with all the rooms arranged directly behind one another in a straight line, front to back. The term shotgun is said to have originated because of the notion that if a shotgun were fired through the font door all the pellets would leave through the rear door without hitting anything.
Shotgun houses are usually of wood-frame construction with weatherboard siding, raised two or three feet on brick piers. The origin of this house type is uncertain, but it has often been conjectured that the concept was imported form Africa or Haiti. The shotgun is thought to have developed in rural areas rather than as an urban expression; shotgun singles are very common throughout the countryside surrounding New Orleans.
The shotgun house type first appeared in New Orleans during the 1830s. The early shotguns generally had hipped roofs on the front and rear, or had hipped front and gabled rear. They were built close to the ground and abutting the sidewalk, with a shallow roof overhang in the front. During the 1850s shotguns with front galleries, set back from the sidewalk, became popular.
Shotgun singles were built in a number of subtypes. The two-bay single without halls is usually three to five rooms deep. Chimneys are most often located at the center ridge of the house, on a dividing wall between two rooms. Two other two-bay singles are the lateral-wing type and the lateral-wing type with side gallery.
The more spacious three-bay shotgun single features an entrance hall to one side, usually two rooms deep, with the front two rooms used a double parlor. In this situation fireplaces are located on the outer walls. This room arrangement suggests that this subtype was influenced by the sidehall American town-house. Three-bay shotguns are usually four or five rooms deep.
The above description was taken from "New Orleans Houses, a House-Watcher's Guide" by Lloyd Vogt.
Some Examples of Shotgun Single Houses at the Bay
(Past and Present)
209½ Main Street
National Register # 503
Ca. 1920. 1-story gable-roofed shotgun cottage with undercut gallery and scalloped porch valance.
(Destroyed by Katrina in 2005)
212 Ballentine Street
National Register # 117
Ca. 1905. Queen Anne-style elements. 1-story shotgun cottage with gable-on-hip roof, L-plan undercut gallery. Pediment of gable is enriched with patterned shingles and vergeboards are scalloped. Narrow posts with capitals.
210 Ballentine Street
National Register # 118
Ca 1905. 1-story shotgun cottage with gable roof and undercut gallery. Gable enriched with patterned shingles.
202 South Toulme
National Register # 476
Ca. 1885. 1-story shotgun cottage with gable-on-hip-roof and 2-sided undercut gallery. Bracketed posts. Cut-out vergeboards. Shingled-gable-French doors onto gallery.
213 Main Street
National Register # 505
Ca. 1920. 1-story 2x3-bay gable-on-hip-roofed shotgun cottage with board-and-batten siding.
117 McDonald Lane
National Register # 680
Ca. 1880. 1-story front-gabled shotgun with projecting hip-roofed porch. Curved brackets and wood posts. Diagonal boards in gable end.
(Destroyed by Katrina in 2005)
108 Cue Street
National Register # 375
"Kate Lobrano House" Ca. 1900. 1-story gable-on-hip-roofed shotgun cottage with 2-sided undercut gallery. Multiple double-leafed entrances onto gallery.
143 Saint Charles Street
National Register # 98
Ca. 1890. L-plan shotgun cottage with polygonal bays and pedimented gable. Undercut L-plan gallery. Doorways with transoms and round-arched light. Unseated and severely damaged in Katrina but quickly and nicely restored.