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Shotgun House Rehab Debate Revived - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Shotgun House Rehab Debate Revived

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Some say they're a testament to our rich history, while others say, they're a reminder of a past they'd like to forget. The preservation of shotgun houses is being discussed again and as KTBS 3's Keristen Holmes found out, the community is still divided on the issue. Shotgun houses were originally as popular with the middle class as they were with the poor. But over time, they became a symbol of poverty. 

"They're typically about 600 to 700 square feet. You can look from the living room to the kitchen and out of the back door." Bonnie Moore is the Director of Community Development for the City of Shreveport. It's her job to see to it that neighborhoods throughout the city are healthy. She say's that people across Shreveport, especially those who once lived in shotgun houses, have overwhelmingly rejected the idea of their rehabilitation and preservation. "It was very depressive for them, many of them were poor and didn't have a lot of money. And there were large families living in these small houses and it was not a good thing for them. It had little historic significance and they didn't want to relive that past," Moore said.

Kelly Rich, President of Norla Preservation Project sees shotgun houses differently. "We're not doing residential, we're trying to make sure that's clear to people. We're giving them a whole new life as a commercial development." Norla is leading a preservation  effort for a handful of shotgun houses in the Ledbetter Heights area. They plan to move the homes just west of downtown, behind first united methodist church. "Putting restaurants and shops in here could put a little more of a positive vibe on something that people may not want to be saved. Once they kind of get what we're trying to do, with us trying to repurpose these and utilize in redaptive reuse, people are excited," Rich said. 

There's still sentiment from the community that preserving these structures would be offensive. Moore says the office of Community Development values people and neighborhoods over derelict property and wants to see functional preservation that makes sense for the community that houses the shotgun homes leaving the two sides on opposite ends of the issue.  Moore said, "They're havens for drugs and prostitution. There's squatters that cause fires. They breed criminal activity." Rich offered, "I understand that, I do, but at the same time just give us a chance and see what we can do and this might be something that you might be pleasantly surprised."
An  effort to put a number of houses back into the housing inventory in Allendale failed. Shotgun houses were the most popular style of homes in the south from the end of the civil war until the 1920's. But this style house can be found a far away as Chicago, Illinois; Key West, Florida; and California. Back here in Shreveport, it'll cost $50,000 dollars per shotgun house for renovation. This estimate does not include relocation of the home.

For Norla's Proposal, click here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34G0hiMWALM

 

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