Vernacular Architecture of the Shotgun House

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Vlach an architectural historian is making it his mission to correct his peers understanding and clarify that the origin of the shotgun house lies in African culture. He wants to prove that the shotgun house does not originate from New Orleans, but traces back further, dating back to the sixteenth century. By using the evidence of immigration patterns into the United States, rise of free black communities in New Orleans, understanding of the Atlantic Slave Trade route, development of Architectural traditions, and adoption of vernacular architecture, Vlach will prove his objective.

Vlach proposes that his counter parts in his profession have got it all wrong. He uses Kniffen as an example. While Kniffen’s definition of the shot gun house a, “ the one room width to three or more rooms deep, with a forward facing gable”, is correct, he believes that the construction concludes that shotgun was developed for the New Orleans water’s edge is wrongly concluded. There have always been similar construction methods throughout the world, firstly in the western region of Africa. One of the first clues that the shotgun house did not originate in New Orleans are the daunting statistical figures of more than 1,000 Haitians migrating into the region of New Orleans in the early 1800’s. This counters Kniffen’s claims that the boost in lumber as a materials sparked a larger output of shotgun house construction in the 1880’s in the New Orleans area. In 1809, Haitian migration fluxed the number of free blacks in New Orleans area to one ninth of the population. Free Blacks in the New Orleans area began to build their own communities based on traditions. The Shotgun house being one of traditional architecture to Haitians, became a symbol of the free man in the region. Vlach uses the example of many black architects. By Name Jolles, who constructed a house “fifteen feet in width and forty five in length” in 1835,was a free black before the 1880’s lumber boom building shotgun home....
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