• What is thought to be the last shotgun house in Santa Monica has been preserved.
  • The house is now open as a resource center for preservationists.
  • The shotgun style dates back to the mid 19th century.

Legend has it that the tiny house at 2520 2nd Street is Santa Monica’s last shotgun house.

A shotgun house, though some argue about it’s origin, is a house built on a lot no more than about 30 feet wide, with the rooms lined up, front to back. Living room, then a bedroom (or two) and a kitchen. No hallway. And in many cases, a porch on the front.

And, according to some accounts, is so named because a bullet can travel from front to back of the home without interruption.

Many shotgun houses didn’t include indoor plumbing at first. Later editions did, and older versions had the convenience added, usually off the kitchen.

The little house in Santa Monica came close to demolition several times – once in the late ’90s, and again in 2002. By the first attempt, it was likely a century old.

The latter attempt came close to succeeding. Even though neighborhood groups secured landmark status for the property, the city allowed its destruction if protocols were followed.

Even though the vanilla-hued gem lost windows and part of its back room before the carnage was halted, preservationists pulled together – quite literally – and moved the house several times. It finally spent two stints in two different storage yards, landing on a flatbed in 2014 and deposited at its current address.

Santa Monica shotgun house gets a new life

Owned by the city and recently dedicated as a historic site, it stands as testament to the simple lives that were lived in those small houses. Often constructed near sources of employment when laborers largely still walked to work, they fell into disrepair as employment centers became more far-flung, and people needed transportation other than walking to get there.

So, the neighborhoods gradually were abandoned as workers moved into other types of housing, largely closer to work. Or, the land on which they sat became too valuable to dedicate to these odd structures.

Preservationists had such a good time with this one because it was still so true to it’s simple past.  Some houses of this architectural style that do remain but most of them have had so many additions that their roots are well obscured.

The house now has a new name, and function. It’s now the Santa Monica Conservancy’s Preservation Resource Center.

With a few modifications, the house now stands as a testament to the form and function of the shotgun house. It now invites the curious to enter to learn about a different time and place in the history of architecture and Santa Monica.

To see more images of shotgun houses, visit the Pinterest board that is dedicated to the style.

Email Kimberley Sirk

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