New Town Project

New Town was an African American neighborhood in Blacksburg, Virginia from the late 19th century until the mid- 1960’s. It consisted of Gilbert Street and a small lane that were home to about 20 families. The lone remaining structure today is the St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall, which was the social center for area African-Americans from 1905 until the end of segregation. In the 1970’s road construction and other development resulted in the decline and disappearance of the neighborhood. Nonetheless, New Town and its history can be an important reminder of the resilience, pride, self-reliance, and community spirit of the people who lived in this neighborhood as well as the injustice that segregation imposed.

New Town, today, has been redeveloped as a shopping and office complex. To memorialize New Town and its people, we have developed a prototype technology-based re-creation of New Town as it was about 1950. The New Town Remembered program includes virtual and augmented reality representations of homes and people and educational programs and materials designed for school age children. The New Town Remembered program integrates physical and topographical elements with the emotional and community experiences that made New Town a living neighborhood during the era of Jim Crow laws.

As an on-line resource and on-site Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality experience, New Town Remembered shows participants the joys and struggles of those who lived in this neighborhood during segregation. Of particular importance, participants will discover how problem solving, persistence, pride, and community cohesion were key elements in a successful neighborhood despite the exclusionary restrictions. These important lessons from the past have universal applications today.

Historic building provides backbone for 3-D video game - Virginia Tech from VirginiaTech on Vimeo.

New Town Members:

Joanne Price, Richard Wade, Charles Johnson, Ginger Wagner, Pat Berger, Alexis Johnson, Kay Moody, Ann Linden, Cindy Shockley, Jim Shockley, Phyllis Albritton, Dan Thorp, Alvin Humes, Jesse Eaves, Lori Jones, Rhonda Morgan, Bill Sanders, Tom Sherman, Thomas Tucker, David Hicks, Todd Ogle, Susan Anderson,


John Dooley – Virginia Tech Foundation
Carrie Woodring – Virginia Tech Foundation
Ben Knapp – ICAT (Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology), SEAD (Science, Engineering, Art, and Design) Mini-Grant
Marc Verniel – Town of Blacksburg
Guru Ghosh – Virginia Tech Outreach and International Affairs
Steve Jones – Town of Blacksburg
Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation

Game Developers:

David Mills (Lead Unity developer), Matthew Yourshaw (3D modeler), Ani Mittra (3D modeler), Cassandra Nguyen (3D modeler), Reza Tasooji (Motion capture), Hadeel Ramadan (Laser scanning), Amelia Liarakos (Graphic Designer), Stephanie Livingston (Graphic Designer), Meaghan Dee (Graphic Designer)

Principal Investigators:

Todd Ogle (Education and AR), David Hicks (Education), Allison Hase (Script writer), Hannah Tucker (Voice talent), Rhyan J. Gilmore (Voice talent), Eric Gilmore (Voice talent), Tom Sherman (Principal Investigator), Thomas Tucker (Principal Investigator)

Books support:

David Cline (Historian), Leslie Gregg (Illustration), Sara McCarter (Design), Gary Worley (Maps ), Peter Wallenstein (Dept. of History), Dan Thorp

strong>Montgomery County Public Schools:

Sharon J. Francis-Zuckerwar (Supervisor of Social Sciences & Character Education
Montgomery County Public Schools)
April Peacock (5th Grade Curriculum Development)
Carolyn Mashburn (5th Grade Curriculum Development)
Heidi Williams (5th Grade Curriculum Development)
Jeremy Hutchinson (5th Grade Curriculum Development)
Kelly McPherson (5th Grade Curriculum Development)
Marjorie Peterson (5th Grade Curriculum Development)
Nataleigh McGuire (5th Grade Curriculum Development)
Rhonda Meadows (5th Grade Curriculum Development)
Rose Norris (5th Grade Curriculum Development)
Jean Cummins (5th Grade Curriculum Development)

strong>Virginia Tech press support:

Scott Parker (VT reporter), Katie Gehry (VT reporter), Gwendolyn Ogle (Videographer)

Collaborative Colleges:
Architecture & Urban Studies
Liberal Arts & Human Sciences