The Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously last month to award the Santa Monica Conservancy a 20-year lease agreement to relocate, rehabilitate and operate the last-remaining “shotgun house” as a Preservation Resource Center. For years, the Conservancy has been very involved in the saving of the landmarked shotgun house.

City staff issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in August to find a nonprofit organization to relocate, rehabilitate and operate the shotgun house.

Shotgun houses were homes that were one story high, one room wide (about 12 feet) and typically two or three rooms deep (about 36 feet), one room behind the other, connected by doorways that were lined up.

They were called “shotgun houses” because, if you shot a gun through the front door, the shot would come out the back door, passing through each doorway without touching a wall.

As a Preservation Resource Center, Santa Monica’s last intact shotgun house, owned by the city, will be open to the public 12 hours a week on a regular basis and by appointment for school groups and others, as well as for special events.

It will also offer a permanent exhibit about the role of shotgun houses in Santa Monica history and throughout the United States.

“It should be a great asset to the community and neighborhood, which has so many historic buildings nearby,” said Santa Monica Conservancy member Sherrill Kushner. “It’s just a real treasure trove.”

The shotgun house will eventually be moved out of storage and to its permanent site at Second Street and Norman Place, only two blocks from its original location at 2712 Second St., said Kushner.

The city will spend about $84,000 to prepare the site for the shotgun house and it will probably move to that location in about two years, Kushner said.

The house is currently at the former site of Fisher Lumber at 1601 Olympic Blvd. in Santa Monica, where it was moved in December 2005.

And it has been through a lot since it was built in the late 1890s at 2712 Second St.

Designated a landmark in 1998 and called a “treasure” by many, it was nearly demolished twice — once in 1998 and again in 2002 — and has been moved twice to different storage sites.

As Kushner and former neighbor of the shotgun house Roger Genser put it to the council, the shotgun house is a “survivor.”

The Santa Monica Conservancy will pay a nominal annual fee to the city to lease the shotgun house and will now be responsible for raising the funds to rehabilitate and maintain the house.

The Conservancy predicts that the cost of relocating, restoring and leasing the house from the city will be an estimated $260,000 to $278,000, and it will also cost the Conservancy about $10,000 a year to maintain and staff the shotgun house.

“It’s a little daunting, but we’re up to the task,” Kushner says.

The Conservancy is starting a fundraising campaign immediately.

“We’re starting to apply for grants and beat down the doors of local business people, individuals and corporations,” says Kushner. “We are excited. It has taken eight years to get to this point. We’ve persevered.”

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