Save The Shotgun Houses of Rocky Mount With Hud Grant Money

These little gems are in Ward #4. I believe T.J. Walker, Councilman, has a heart for saving them. The more the Ward gets involved with their neighborhood housing, chances increase that others will join in the financial end of saving them. The possibilities of this significant housing has been ignored. The state of them proves this is so. Over the roofs of these small homes fly’s the banner of RESTORATION. Make saving the shotguns a priority in Wards 1-4 where the bulk of them are.

I’m all excited because $1.4 million in grant money is coming from Hud. These grants are used to build, purchase and/or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.

What an opportunity to change the lives of people who have been living the reality of blighted and unsafe housing. I talk on todays new 5-minute podcast, Talking Main Street with Stepheny, about this grant money; the opportunity and my concerns. Hope you will listen in PODCAST Link:


3-D Glasses Change How You Look At Shotgun Housing

“The house gulped in a big breath of fresh air, like some frantic drowning thing breaking the water’s surface and gasping for life. It had sat unopened for so long, suffocating in the silence, it’s memories blanketed by a thick layer of dust.”
― Rachel Autumn Deering

When we think of our Shotgun houses scattered through Wards 1-4, we think of the ones that look like those pictured above. I invite you to enter my movie theater. Here are your 3-D glasses that will allow you to see the possibilities the Shotgun Houses provide. Word of caution: mention the word gentrification and you’ll find yourself out on the front sidewalk with the theater doors closing behind you. Crying gentrification is a sorry excuse to do nothing. Avoiding action is no longer acceptable. Sit back, enjoy your popcorn, and dream a little dream with me.

Blue Shotgun in Louisville: ALL Photos from Bob Villa-This Old House website

The sea-green exterior of this 1900s-era shotgun home is in New Orleans’ Bywater North neighborhood. Thanks to loving renovations, you can see the original refinished hardwood floors preserving its historical appeal.

As one of the original shotgun homes built in the Atlanta neighborhood of Reynoldstown, this petite periwinkle-colored home has retained authentic accents from the 1880s, while keeping up with the time with the addition of modern amenities. A vaulted ceiling and floor-to-ceiling fireplace coexist with stainless steel kitchen fixtures and ultra-fast Wi-Fi to offer the elegance of the old world with the convenience of the new.

This taupe shotgun home in New Orleans has vestiges of the Victorian era, from the transom above the front door to the ornamental violet awning. The historical details can be found throughout the interior as well; pine floors, and ultra-wide double doors.

Our Shotgun Housing doesn’t have to look like the photo above. If those living in neighborhoods full of these boarded up, deteriorating Shotguns, would get together and rethink their importance, it is a great starting point. Restoration will help eliminate crime, no longer having places to deal with drugs. it will help solve our housing problems. They are perfect for singles, young professionals, seniors, workforce housing, and for young families. Home Ownership can bring back pride in the faltering neighborhoods, make them safer places, where people look out for one another once again. EVERYBODY…put on your 3-D glasses and take a new look at these little jewels.

The shotgun house is the signature house style of New Orleans. This home measures 400 square feet. The single bedroom can fit two beds, and a dining area is squeezed alongside the kitchen. Don’t tell me there is something wrong with the gentrification of this Shotgun House. Paint and restoration is not a bad thing, the inference that gentrification is. Research shows that people welcome a revitilized neighborhood to continue living in. Let’s find a way to remove the layer of dust and let our Shotgun houses breathe again.

“Ain’t Nothing Gonna Change – You Is Wastin’ Your Time”

900 Block of Gay Street

“Until you get the drugs out of here.”  That’s what I was told Saturday afternoon standing on Gay Street while talking with two older women that were out for a short walk. I was taking photographs in the 800-900 block on Gay between Tillery, Vyne, and Pine. I  parked my car and walked towards these old friends, one who’d lived in the neighborhood since the 70s. “It was nice back then, a good place until drugs came here.” She gestured with her hand towards several houses we were standing near to indicate their condition. Restored housing builds safe neighborhoods, fosters pride and homeownership, is an economic win, is vital for the community that is cultivating revitalization.

The little woman who did most of the talking told me she was paying $400.00 a month rent. “I’m not gonna pay that ‘sorry-ass’ man no more. I’m leaving.” The expression on her friend’s face told me this wasn’t the first time she’d heard this declaration.” I don’t use the ‘sorry ass’ expression myself but 15 minutes later I had taken quite a shine to it. If I wrote lyrics for songs instead of this blog, I would definitely use the phrase in a James Brown-like song, singing about these houses that have stood guard all these years over good people and are feeling the effects of old age and neglect, going down! going down!

When I asked who their councilman was, they didn’t know. You and I know these houses didn’t get like this since yesterday but over a long time of neglect. As far as I’m concerned, the blame is knocking on the Ward’s Councilman’s door who has influenced nada, nothing. How could they not have championed these people they supposedly care for and not be the driving force to use their position to stay the course with the police to clear the drug dealers out and keep them out! so investment will continue and these wonderful neighborhoods can be saved. Thank goodness for these angels in disguise that see the worth of these houses and are doing something about it. I was told that some of the residents on the street are working on their own homes. Look at these photographs with eyes to see how perfect they are for what we need. The women told me how nice some of the houses are inside. I imagine that’s in comparison to a less demanding standard than mine.

When we finished talking, the women told me, “You get on home before dark.” Several cautions to “Be careful!” I was leaving but they were staying. I drove away with, “Ain’t nothin’ gonna change until we get the drugs out of here,” ringing in my ears. I don’t know where the police station is that the Chief of Police resides. Having to stay at home, I can find a phone number, however, to plea my case after I figure out what to say. I’d rather walk through this area leading him by hand to see again with new eyes what it once was and has become and can be again. I learned a lot in those fifteen minutes. It upset me but still, I’m grateful. I blew them both a kiss and drove away. Though I’d said my name and that I write a blog, you know these two older ladies are still shaking their heads, “who in the hell was she?”

Advocating for Rocky Mounts’ Shot Gun Houses – Gifts That Keep on Giving

Merry Christmas

I know the last thing on your mind as we enter this Holy Season is the shotgun houses of Rocky Mount. Under your tree, however, I am leaving this last blog post for 2019. (The Main Street Facebook page will continue to post in December) I ask that you consider these valuable assets as one of the important answers to our housing needs. How can we make a case for their protection? When it comes to the architectural appreciation of Shotguns you need eyes to see.

The answer lies in advocating the Shotgun’s historical significance. To get our feet wet, here is a short video filmed in New Orleans where after Katrina, their Preservation Group championed the saving of their Shotguns with great success.

FYI:  Shotgun houses generally consist of a gabled front porch and two or more rooms laid out in a straight line. Rooms are directly connected without hallways. Although shotgun houses are small, were inexpensively built, and generally lack amenities, they have been praised for their architectural virtues, which include the ingenious use of limited space and decoration such as gingerbread trim and brightly painted exteriors. They represent a uniquely African American contribution to architecture in the United States.

Here is a small collection of some Shotgun homes in Ward 2 that I photographed in 2018. I wrote to Councilman Blackwell about these homes without a reply. It doesn’t matter, let’s become a voice in the New Year and get active in the on-going life of these architectural assets. Protecting these houses will make our neighborhoods safer and even restored, affordable. It is a win-win for everyone.                                                                                                    SCROLL DOWN TO READ FURTHER COMMENTS

Shotgun House on Pine St. Rocky Mount, NC

Shotgun House on Pine St. Rocky Mount, NC

Double Shotgun on Star St. Rocky Mount NC

Double Shotgun on Star St. Rocky Mount NC

Shotgun House on Gay St. Rocky Mount NC

Shotgun House on Gay St. Rocky Mount

N. Vyne St Rocky Mount, NC

Star St. Rocky Mount, NC

Shotguns on Pine Street

Double Shotgun corner of Star & Harris St. Rocky Mount, NC


Double Shotgun on Star St. Rocky Mount, NC