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Entry from August 31, 2007
Texas House (Breezeway; Dog-Run House; Dogtrot House; Possum Trot House; Saddlebag House)

A “Texas house” (also called a “breezeway” or “dog-run house” or “dogtrot house” or “possum trot house” or “saddlebag house") is when two structures are built with a covered passage between them, where a breeze can flow through (cooling both of the houses). Dogs often run through this space, causing the “dog-run” and “dogtrot” names to be popular.


Handbook of Texas Online
DOG-RUN HOUSES. The dog-run, dog-trot, or double log cabin was a common type of house in Texas at the middle of the nineteenth century. The building consisted of two cabins separated by a ten or fifteen foot passageway, with a continuous gabled roof covering both cabins and the passageway between them, or dog-run. Often a porch was built to extend across the entire front of the house, and lean-to shed rooms were constructed at the rear of each cabin for additional space. The walls were made of horizontally laid hand-hewn logs, with the openings between the logs chinked with sticks and clay. Later examples were often frame rather than logs. The floors were of either dirt, sawed boards, or split logs with the flat side up. There few windows in frontier cabins, and glass windows were rarely seen in pioneer times. Each cabin had a door opening onto the dog-run. Doors and shutters were hung on rawhide or wooden hinges. The roofs were made of overlapping oak clapboards held in place by weight poles. The chimney was constructed of sticks and a clay mixture, and the hearth was made of smooth rocks. Later dog-run houses often had fine brick chimneys and shingled roofs. The purpose of the dog-run was to cool the house by providing shade and catching the breeze. The space served as a catch-all for farm and household articles and was the favorite sleeping place of the dogs. The structure was used on the frontier from Alabama to Ontario and has European antecedents.

Texas Escapes
Texas Architecture
Life, death and dog-trot houses
by Clay Coppedge
(...)
These types of houses, also referred to as dog-trot houses or, in certain parts of the Deep South, possum-trot houses, date back to about the middle of the 19th Century. The houses, or cabins, were built in two parts separated by a 10-15 foot passageway. Some had four structures, two on each side.

Had there been a need to advertise these houses - or anyone to advertise them to - the pioneer real estate agent might have said, “Simple but functional Cool in the summer. And your dogs will love it!”

The name “dog-run” comes from the comfort that family dogs found in the shade and the summers breezes the passageways afforded. People enjoyed the same comfort. The passageways were designed to provide shade and breeze in the summer, sort of a pioneer climate control system.

In the winter, chilling winds were funneled through the passageway which gave early-day residents the concept if not the term “wind chill factor.” More often than not, the passageways were closed during the winter, which kept the wind out and provided an extra room.

(Dictionary of American Regional English)
breezeway n widespread exc West Also called dog-trot
A roofed passage, usu open at the sides, connecting two buildings or parts of a house.
1931 K.N.Burt Man’s Own Country 39: (DA), A small log building attached to the end of his own ranch-house by means of what is known to the Far West as a breeze-way. This construction is a floored and roofed-over passage, open at the sides.

(Dictionary of American Regional English)
dog run n chiefly S Midle, occas Sth
=dogtrot
1904 New Engl. Mag. 30.41/2 eKY, Frequently, when the house is enlarged, instead of the second room being joined to the first, it is built at a distance of twelve feet and the roof extended to the first cabin. Thus a third open room or court is formed. This is called the “dog run,” but in reality is the family sitting room.

(Dictionary of American Regional English)
dogtrot n also attrib [So called because a dog could trot through] chiefly Sth, S Midl Cf alley, breezeway, dog-run, turkey trot
A covered, open passageway between two sections of a house or cabin.
1901 Amer. Jrl. Sociol. 7.1.11 eKY, It consists, sometimes, of two rooms under one roof, with an open space between, called a “dog-trot.”

(Dictionary of American Regional English)
possum trot n
also possum run; =dogtrot.
1941 Johnston-Waterman Early Architecture NC 7, From Virginia came two log-house plans that seem to have originated there. These are called the Dog-Run (Breezeway, or Possum-Trot) and the Saddle-Bag houses. They are both based on the fact that logs cannot conveniently exceed twenty-four feet in length in house building. . . Therefore the structure of the house was divided into units not exceeding this size.

(Dictionary of American Regional English)
saddlebag house n Also saddlebag; rarely saddleback house
[From the shape] Sth, S Midl Cf breezeway, dogtrot, double-pen(ned), Texas house
A house consisting of two parts separated by a central space of by a large fireplace with a central chimney and covered by a single roof.
1925 in 2001 DARE File—Internet, A two-pen or Southern saddlebag house is just what its name implies, two cabins set in line with each other about 10 feet apart and one roof extending over the two pens. The space between the two cabins in the South is called a gallery, in other places an areaway, and in the North a hallway. In this case the hall is open at both ends. A saddlebag makes a most delightful summer camp.

21 February 1954, Dallas Morning News, “Historic Homes of Texas,” part VI, pg. 3:
The breezeway of a dog-run house was a good place to rest and work.

2 March 1975, Dallas Morning News, section C, pg. 6 photo caption:
The Gano Cabin, called a “dogtrot house” after its long breezeway;...

This Dog’ll Really Hunt:
An Entertaining and Informative Texas Dictionary
by Wallace O. Chariton
Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press
1999
Pg. 84:
Dog run house: When the pioneers came to Texas they discovered that it got hot in the summertime. To combat the temperatures, cabins were built in two parts with a common roof and an opening in the middle that was arranged in the direction of the prevailing winds. No matter how hot it got, there always seemed to be a breeze in the opening that mad life a little more bearable. The opening also proved to be a favorite for the dogs who would run through it when playing or chasing the cat, and the design came to be generally known as “dog run.” Also called “dog trot” and “Texas house.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, August 31, 2007 • Permalink