Just before the turn of the century, Abbot Kinney and his partner Francis Ryan acquired tracts in South Santa Monica, thinking to attract the Santa Fe railroad. They built a park and wharf at the foot of Hill Street that would serve as the terminus of the railroad.
Simple, inexpensive cottages were appearing on small lots in the area around the original site of the Shotgun House. According to Ingersoll’s History of Santa Monica (1908), these cottages were “very simple affairs – a long box of upright boards with a couple of partitions.”
By the turn of the century, those little houses were being supplanted by “neat and commodious” cottages (Outlook March 10, 1899), and by the 1920s, Ocean Park was completely built out.
Because the Shotgun House predates any existing records, its specific origins are not known but photographs indicate that it was one of many similar buildings in the area at the time.
That type of cottage was ubiquitous in rural southern California. It was quick and cheap to build from kits, or could be purchased pre-assembled from regional and national mail order houses. The railroads and oil, lumber and mining industries used them as temporary worker housing and maintenance shacks. Their small size and slender form made them easy to transport by rail car and/or horse drawn wagon.
The shotgun house was originally located two blocks from the Ocean Park Depot of the Santa Fe rail line.
As shotgun houses were a national phenomenon, some of them have been preserved as national historic resources and can be viewed in the Library of Congress Archives. They are unique in Santa Monica history as Abbot Kinney, ever the maverick, saw an opportunity to jump-start his new resort area by turning these industrial worker housing units into vacation cottages.Ed. Note: This text derives from the City’s June 2000 EIR for 2712 Second Street/the Shotgun House