Apalachicola group wants to "Save Our Shotguns"
One local Panhandle community is pro guns, shotguns that is.
They're working to restore shotgun homes that were once a vibrant part of its culture.
"It's absolutely vital that we save these shotguns," said Valentina Webb, a board member of the group "Save Our Shotguns."
Shotgun homes date back to the turn of the 20th century. Hundreds were built in The Hill neighborhood of Apalachicola to house the many laborers who worked in the cotton industry or lumber mill.
"These walls are speaking today," said Webb while standing on the porch of a restored shotgun home. "These walls are speaking life that there was once a vibrant community. There was once real people that lived here."
"The history of this [home] is there was a woman who lived here who was a numbers person who sold a little moonshine," said Creighton Brown, referring to an abandoned shotgun home. Brown helps spearhead the group "Save Our Shotguns."
But time has caught up with the shotguns. Many have disappeared. Others abandoned.
"And they're built of materials you can't get anymore," said Brown. They're built of old heart pine."
Shotgun homes are rectangular in shape with one room behind the next.
"They were built to take advantage of the way the air moved through them, and take advantage of ease of construction," said Brown.
They get their name because it's said you could shoot a shotgun through the front door and have the slug exit the back door.
Brown and his wife Holly started "Save Our Shotguns." They understand what these homes mean to The Hill.
"We are hoping that by saving some small, some traditional homes from here that they'll remain affordable housing," said Brown.
Their mission is three-fold: preserve Apalachicola's past, provide affordable housing and create jobs.
"We feel more like we're part of the neighborhood than coming and doing something that's not already done here," said Brown. "This is the way it's done here. The people help each other."
Pete Olson restored his shotgun in The Hill. He gave us a small tour of his home.
"This countertop material was heart pine that came off of these walls in here," said Olson. "And the boards, the vertical boards here [on the butcher block] and in the closet were what was left of the ceiling."
"It gives me the hope and the faith I need to know that these buildings will not just fall, dilapidated to the ground or just ran over with a bulldozer," said Webb.
The Browns and Webb are determined not to let that happen. So they plan to come at the project with both barrels.
"We've got to have a market of homes," said Webb.
"In part we learned it when we came here," said Brown. "You know, this is what our neighborhood taught us."
The group says they need affordable housing to attract low-income professionals like teachers and first responders to the city. They say the current housing market is for the most part not affordable for these people.
The group wants to restore five homes per year and 96 in all. They do have some zoning challenges to overcome before they can start.
They ask if anyone would like to donate or provide any help with the project to contact them. The link to the organization's website is attached to this article.