The iconic shotgun house is a testimony to the rich culture and history of the city of New Orleans. These pint-sized structures were born during the 1800s from the necessity to create housing for the influx of people to cities from rural America and foreign countries. Building lots were small and taxation was based off of lot frontage, which later shifted to number of rooms. Thus, the shotgun house is long and narrow, with rooms lined up one after the other and doors at each end of the residence. The layout was also a huge advantage in the South before modern air conditioning was invented, as it allowed for cross-ventilation in each room. While there are several variations of the shotgun that have evolved over time, the living room is typically at the front of the house, followed by two bedrooms and finally, the kitchen. The exclusion of hallways, closets and, occasionally, bathrooms can make renovation for modern living challenging. Nonetheless, the charm, detail, and heritage that the shotgun house embodies far outweigh its shortcomings!
The New Orleans Creole cottage is distinctly characterized by its gabled roof that runs parallel to the street. The style developed in New Orleans during the early 19th century to accommodate the humid, subtropical climate of the South and represents the fusion of French, Spanish, and Caribbean architectural influences. The simplistic, one and a half story Creole cottage is most prevalent in the French Quarter. Typically, the house sits close to the property line, often at street level, and commonly features French doors, vertical-board shutters that cover large windows and a central chimney. They can be found in an array of bright and pastel color combinations that lend to the vibrancy and unique flare of the French Quarter. Original variations of the Creole cottage include the single, double, side hall, and center hall, though creative renovations have adapted these historical New Orleanian structures for modern living.
The townhouse’s unique shape and elaborate architectural details are a sure reflection of the early development of the city of New Orleans and its Colonial history. As a result of the rapid urbanization that occurred during the 19th century, housing lots were narrow and packed closely together. Thus, the original Creole townhouse of French influence is a two to three story brick and stucco structure that is only one room wide and two rooms deep. This style of townhouse, inherent to the Central Business District and French Quarter, features a plain facade that is built close to the sidewalk, a carriageway in place of an entrance door, and a private courtyard. The second floor has walkthrough windows leading out to a narrow balcony that runs the width of the home. The American townhouses of the Lower Garden District are some of the most coveted homes in New Orleans. Often in the Greek revival style, the building is separated from the street by an intricate wrought iron fence and showcases double galleries supported by classic columns and a grand entryway.
Queen Anne House
Early in the 20th century, as the city of New Orleans expanded to include a suburban sprawl, larger houses started to emerge to accommodate the tastes of the upper class. The Queen Anne style house is comprised of two stories laid out in irregular floor plans. It typically boasts an asymmetrical facade, multiple gabled roofs, a wraparound porch, and bay windows. The shining feature of the Queen Anne house is the lace-like woodwork trim, brackets, porch posts, and rails. Just like other artistic forms, Queen Anne style was appropriated by the lower class and used to decorate shotgun-type dwellings. While elements of Queen Anne style can be used sparingly, it is not uncommon to see a shotgun house with a front porch that is completely adorned with decorative woodwork details.
Variations of the American Foursquare house started popping up all over the country during the early 1900s. Trademarks of the style include a relatively boxy structure with two stories, four rooms to a floor, asymmetrical architectural elements, and a hipped roof. Among other Colonial revival motifs, the New Orleans American Foursquare usually features a deep gallery with a second story porch supported by several columns. The best examples of the American Foursquare can be found in the Uptown and Midcity neighborhoods.
Center Hall Cottage
The Center Hall cottage borrows its basic layout from the Creole cottage with its rectangular footprint and gabled roof, but also features Caribbean inspired architectural details. The style became common in the South during the early 1800s and was popularized in New Orleans by the upper middle class. In general, the structure is raised off of the ground and sits one and a half stories high with symmetrically laid out rooms accessed by a central hallway. What really sets the Center Hall cottage apart from its Creole counterpart is its deep front gallery, supported by elegant columns that can be seen in a plethora of designs.
Although the bungalow is intrinsically associated with California, the style came into popularity in New Orleans during he first half of the 20th century. The basic bungalow is a square structure that sits one and a half stories high with an irregular floor plan. Some bungalows feature dormers, bay windows and a complex roof design, but for the most part, the style lines are clean and simple. Most bungalows incorporate a deep front porch that is covered by an extension of the main roof. Subtypes of the bungalow are common in New Orleans and are most typically seen in the Arts and Crafts style, which highlights modest architectural details and rustic materials.
All research and writing by Emma Schluntz