Shotguns and Survival
Hurricane Katrina blew away or seriously damaged a lot of Gulf Coast architectural history — like the classic mid 19nth century “shotgun house”
at Bay St. Louis shown here (courtesy Mississippi Heritage Trust) and so-called because you could shoot a bullet front to back without hitting an interior wall, but Mississippi architect Bruce Tolar has fought back, helping communities overcome the devastation and even renew their roots. Like Marianne Cusato and others he developed a variety of innovative, easy-to-construct, small houses — including Katrina Cottages — that add character, even a sense of history, to a neighborhood. Now these plans are part of our Exclusive Studio.
His two bedroom, one bath, 672 sq. ft. Plan 536-4 deftly brings the shotgun idea into the 21st century by including hurricane-resistant construction
and a contemporary layout. (You can still enjoy some target practice down the hall though you’ll need to be okay with blasting through the bedroom closet.) The house is tiny but lives large thanks to the generous front porch and the combined kitchen/living space. The three bedroom, three bath, 1,413 sq. ft.
Plan 536-1 takes a more expansive approach while keeping the neighborly
front. The cross-axial dormers brighten the upstairs bunk room and bath.
Plan 536-3 is a simplified version of Plan 536-1, with no upper floor and
community, as Bruce shows in his walkable Cottage Square development at
Plan 536-5 takes a different tack and draws inspiration from Caribbean
With their connections to a larger historical context these plans are all about creating — or in some cases re-creating — a strong sense of place. These houses remind me of Mark Twain’s famous line that history might not repeat it self, but it rhymes. Welcome Bruce!