A Noteworthy Reminder of Our Community’s Past
For several decades, Paulette Taylor and the Georgetown Cultural Citizen Memorial Association (GCCMA) have kept a watchful eye on the Shotgun House, a three-room home at 801 West Street. As Paulette lovingly pulls a weed from the front walkway and shows off the high school football jacket on display that belonged to her late husband, Melvin, one can’t help but notice her extreme fondness and affection for the historic dwelling.
A shotgun house is a narrow rectangular residence, usually about 12 feet wide, with rooms arranged one behind the other without hallways, and doors at each end of the house. It was a popular style in the South from the end of the American Civil War through the 1920s. A New Orleans historian claimed the term “shotgun” is a reference to the idea that if all the doors are opened, a shotgun blast fired into the house from the front doorway will fly cleanly to the other end and out at the back.
The house was built in what was once the heart of Georgetown’s African American community. In 1997, Mayor Leo Wood, Georgetown City Council, and the GCCMA provided matching funds to restore the home and create a black heritage museum. Paulette’s aunt, Ethel Moore, and other community members provided photos and memorabilia to the collection; vintage letter jackets, autographed photos, historical papers, and even mid-20th century hair styling implements.
The house opened as a museum in 2002 and in 2017, when the full renovation was complete, the GCCMA held an open house. The event included re-enactments of desegregation in Georgetown, a history of the Carver School, historic reflections, and personal artifacts.
Thanks to a tremendous effort by the GCCMA, and managed by Community Leaders like Paulette and volunteers from the Williamson Museum, the Shotgun House continues to improve the tour with dozens of achievements and stories celebrating the culture and contributions of African-Americans in the growth of the city.
Future goals include educational events and tours that will help maintain the residence as a living history museum.
MAINTAINING THE LEGACY
As President of the GCCMA, Paulette works tirelessly alongside organization members to educate, preserve, and celebrate the city’s African American history and culture. Right now she is promoting health and wellness for Black History Month, making plans for Georgetown’s 70th annual Juneteenth celebration, and rekindling programs at the Willie Hall Center at 906 West 17th Street.
Though monthly tours have yet to be scheduled, the Shotgun House’s reopening will be coordinated with special events and private tour requests. The GCCMA welcomes donations and volunteer assistance. Scan the code for more information.