the shotgun on 17th Street SE
On the blog Victorian Secrets, the author gives one explanation for the origin of the style:
It is often said that these houses acquired their name because, if all the doors were open, a shotgun could be fired from front porch to backyard without hitting anything. But even this near-cliche is disputed for reasons beyond the tendency of shotgun pellets to scatter widely.Regardless, they are a form that should not be forgotten. Sadly, Anacostia lost a shotgun house at 1314 V Street SE in 2002, when the owner demolished it without permission.
Since the early 1990s, a widely-accepted theory is that the shotgun house design originated among plantation slaves in the Carribean, and was carried to New Orleans and disseminated throughout the south by slaves and free African-Americans. It has been claimed that the "shotgun" name is a corruption of several Yoruba words related to the concept of "house".
An irony is that exterminating shotgun houses was once a progressive goal. Well into the 1970s, shotgun houses were viewed as inherently-substandard, a symbol of poverty like the unpaved streets and outdoor plumbing that characterized the neighborhoods where they stood. Urban renewal relentlessly demolished them by the block.
bad condition ≠ reason to demolish
the area is now used as a parking lot for the church across the street
Here's some more history of DC's shotguns:
Washington has been a southern-style city for most of its existence, so it might be expected to have a great many shotgun houses. However, this does not appear to be the case. Perhaps the most likely place to find shotguns would have been among the notorious alley dwellings that were demolished in the 1930s and '40s. However, in photos most of these appear to have been very plain two story brick and wooden structures which allowed more density than single story houses. Perhaps the best DC neighborhood for finding shotgun houses is Deanwood, where there is a sprinkling on the sidestreets between Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue and Sherriff Road NE.Every time I learn of a demolition I am more encouraged to continue acting to protect what's still here. This isn't rich people history - but it's a history that's incredibly important and needs protection.
Although shotgun houses are most often associated with poor African-American neighborhoods, each of the pictured houses appear to have had early inhabitants who were white. 1314 V Street SE is another tradesman's home in a formerly segregated white neighborhood. It has many signature shotgun house touches, including a tin gabled roof and full-width front porch, which in this case has a flat, steeply-sloping roof. Some catalogers claim that because shotgun houses are meant to be packed cheek-by-jowl on narrow urban lots, pure examples should lack side windows, as 314 V does.