Smoketown

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Early next month, a panel of preservationists will select a house in Louisville to be rehabilitated under a new project called Preservation S.O.S.—Save Our Shotguns.

It’s a style of house that symbolizes many of Louisville’s older neighborhoods.

There are many variations, but shotgun houses typically have a long, rectangular floor plan: one room wide, three to five rooms in a row with doorways often on the same side of the house.

One common belief is that the name shotgun house refers to the ability to fire a shotgun cleanly from the front through the back door.

The shotgun style likely made its way into the U.S. from the West Indies and became popular in the South during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, offering affordable housing in working class areas.

In Louisville, they’re a part of the fabric of neighborhoods like Germantown, Butchertown, Smoketown and Portland, but some are showing their age, and Portland in particular has a significant number of houses in distress (top two photos).

“In this area, you’re seeing a lot of blight when it comes to vacant properties, many of which are the shotgun houses, and I think that’s what inspired me to try to come forward and do something and start a program that would really make an impact,” said Marianne Zickhur, executive director of Preservation Louisville, which is spearheading the S.O.S. program. Zickhur grew up in the Portland neighborhood.

Zickhur and says shotguns are popular as starter homes for many young buyers. Others like how their simple design lends itself to fix-up and addition projects. [click to continue…]

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