The Shotgun Restoration Project


In a town showcased by major media as an epicenter of “urban decay”, it was encouraging to find a group of folks standing up for the historical “shotgun” architecture of the local area. Featured in this video are Professor Bob Swenson of Southern Illinois University’s School of Architecture, his students, Jim Schmidt, 25, and Toni Lettiere, 23, Shandll McGoy, 31, and local “Vision 20-20” entrepreneur, Bill Harrell. According to Mr. Harrell, one “could buy a local ‘shotgun house’ for between $600 to $1500 at auction [plus your own labor + $10,000] to make it livable.” Not a bad proposition for those looking to step into their first home – and save the living history of the community at the same time.



Filed under Americana, Community Project, Mississippi River Town, On CNN

5 responses to “The Shotgun Restoration Project

  1. robert swenson

    Neal – thank you for interviewing our SIUC School of Architecture and other students and highliting the Shotgun House preservation/restoration project. When you get to New Orleans, be sure to stop at the Lower 9th Ward and meet our friends Pam Desheil and others still working to restore their community . . . very similar to Cairo for different reasons, of course.

    Paddle – Relax – Paddle some more. Take good care and hope to see you again. . Bob.

    • flashriversafari

      Hi, Bob – really a pleasure to meet you and your fine students and to be able to document your good work in Cairo. Will definitely look up your friends come NOLA! All best – Neal

  2. David Koch

    Neal Moore —
    This piece on the Shot Gun house restoration is excellent in many ways: To see the students’ interest, work ethic, and obvious belief in the work they are doing is heartening and a tribute to the concept and leadership of the faculty and townspeople involved.
    The knowledge and experience the students have gained is impressive, too.

    I am not directly involved in this project, but was in attendance for the open house that was held at the end of the summer, and I had a chance to look at the documentation/diary that the students created in the course of their work. That, too, is impressive and will be very useful as more classes and townspeople continue to work on restoration and preservation of these very livable Shot Gun houses.

    Thank you for presenting such an interesting series of Mississippi River portraits.


  3. flashriversafari

    Cheers, DVK,

    Appreciate your kind comment – was very happy to work on the Shotgun piece. Many thanks to Bill for setting the tour and interviews up. Mr. Swensen was great and the kids were very enthusiastic. Made me want to buy a Shotgun myself. Really quite a catchy idea. Am looking forward to seeing if it succeeds with multiple houses this coming summer. Am sure it will! All best, Neal

  4. Mitch Brown

    Excellent work! I wanted to come down there a couple years ago when I learned about this project. I ended up going to New Orleans for a school project instead. Maybe I’ll make it there next summer.

    One thing I’m curious about regarding the high ceilings is – to what degree are they environmental? Heat rises and with transoms and double-hung windows, the heat is transported out of the building and away from occupants (unless of course you’re giants or basketball Centers). It would be an interesting side project to monitor the interior climate in the summer utilizing only the designed features like open top and bottom windows and transoms. Not only are the houses inexpensive to rehab but their operating costs are minimal too! Ever consider getting the local technical high-school or two-year community colleges involved? Anyway, great job! and hopefully I’ll be able to get down there and lend a hand and learn a lot.

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