Our Preservation Resource Center serves as an education resource for the community and visitors of all ages. Here, you’ll find practical, user-friendly information about historic resources in Santa Monica as well as the methods and benefits of preservation. We offer free docent-led tours of the Shotgun House and assistance to homeowners and others with landmark applications and various preservation concerns.
Our award-winning Shotgun House is the last intact shotgun house in Santa Monica. It serves as a model for adaptive reuse and showcases an important piece of Santa Monica’s history. This little house has achieved remarkable things! Since opening in 2016, it has welcomed and educated thousands of visitors earned LEED Gold certification for its green building strategies, and has received several awards:
Among the Center’s sustainable features is the Shotgun House Coastal Garden, which is completely organic, filled with drought-resistant native plants, and cleanses storm water and dry weather runoff.
History of the Shotgun House
The Shotgun House was built circa 1899 and was likely originally located near the Santa Monica beach before moving to 2712 Second Street in Ocean Park. In the 1890s Ocean Park was being subdivided and settled and was growing fast as a resort area. In Ocean Park’s first phase of development, shotgun houses were built or brought in by rail to serve as vacation cottages near the beach. This house was originally located just two blocks from the Santa Fe railroad depot in Ocean Park and within easy reach of the area’s tourist attractions. As such it is linked with one of Santa Monica’s oldest and most important industries—tourism.
Architectural historians believe this type of house was first seen in the Caribbean (resulting from a blend of African and European influences). By the early nineteenth century this modest type of structure had become ubiquitous in the rural South and were particularly common as dwellings for African-Americans.
Inexpensive to build, easy to transport and adaptable to diverse purposes, the shotgun style spread across the country during the nineteenth century. Shotgun houses found use during the Civil War as field housing, sprung up in mining towns across the West, sheltered railroad workers laying tracks across the nation, and offered economical shelter for people of limited means in many communities. In Santa Monica and other resort areas, shotgun homes were also useful as vacation cottages.
Our Shotgun House is a good example of the form with three small rooms lined up in a row. Like most shotgun houses, this board-and-batten structure features a covered front porch and a gabled roof. Ornamentation is minimal but the diamond-shaped shingles on the front gable provide a hint of Queen Anne styling. (Originally the house also included some Victorian scrolled brackets on the porch posts.) Though presently enclosed, several sash windows on both sides of the house once provided light and ventilation.
The shotgun house is remarkable for its sheer tenacity. Because many shotgun houses were flimsily built, many did not stand up well to the passage of time. By the mid-twentieth century a number of Santa Monica’s shotgun houses had been deemed unsafe and bulldozed. Many other shotgun houses that were not decrepit were destroyed due to development pressure over the last century. Yet, against all odds, our Shotgun House persisted, and was occupied as a residence until 1996. Facing destruction in 2002, it was moved from its original site and became the focus of efforts by community members and the City of Santa Monica to restore and relocate it.
Over the next sixteen years, the house became the property of the City, and was relocated two more times before a permanent location was found in the parking lot across from Norman Place and the Ocean Park Library in 2014.
Under the guardianship of the Santa Monica Conservancy, an adaptive reuse plan was developed, a lease was negotiated, and funds were raised to sensitively rehabilitate and transform the little shotgun house into a Preservation Resource Center. In January 2016, the Resource Center celebrated its grand opening. (Read about the grand opening in the LA Times.)