Rutgers University–Newark and NJIT professors, students and artists are employing state-of-the-art imaging, scanning and 3D modeling technology to unlock the history of Newark’s famed Krueger-Scott mansion, an effort that is part of the Newest Americans Project’s initiative to create immigrant history tours of Newark.
The team, led by Keary Rosen, who teaches 3D Modeling and Printing and runs Express Newark’s 3D Form Design Studio, is using photography, high-end digital scanning and drones to map the interior and exterior of the unoccupied mansion and create a 3D representation of the site. NJIT seniors studying interior design are also digitally mapping the structure, and are using architectural blueprints and archival photos of the mansion to render 3D models that recreate the look and feel of the original home.
The researcher’s painstaking data collection and processing work—which has taken hundreds of hours—will enable “visitors” to take a web-based virtual- and augmented-reality tour of the mansion that will transport them through various phases of the site’s existence, complete with information bubbles and audio from the Krueger-Scott Oral History Project that tell the history of the site and its architectural splendor, along with the community impacted by the structure.
It’s been an amazing process to map this site with new technology that’s being used more and more to record the world around us.
“It’s been an amazing process to map this site with new technology that’s being used more and more to record the world around us,” says Rosen. “Everyone involved has been doing great work.”
The Krueger-Scott mansion, erected in 1888 at the corner of Court and High Street (now Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard), is a magnificent three-story, 26-room Late Victorian–style structure with a five-story circular tower, wrap-around porch, steeply pitched roof, asymmetrical facade and arched front entryway.It was built by Gottfried Krueger (1837–1926), a German immigrant and founder of Newark's Gottfriend Krueger Brewing Company. The mansion was sold to the Valley of Newark Scottish Rite Freemasons in 1926 and then purchased in 1958 by African American entrepreneur Louise Scott, who established a successful chain of beauty salons in Newark and is believed to have been the city’s first African-American female millionaire.
Ms. Scott maintained the mansion as both as her residence and the location of her Scott College of Beauty Culture, while keeping the upper levels as her private residence. The mansion was added to the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic places in 1972, and in 1982 it was bought by the City of Newark and has been vacant ever since—and fallen into disrepair—despite attempts to restore the mansion to use it for community purposes.
But a proposal first floated in 2017 calls for the mansion and the adjacent Court Street Urban Farm to be turned into a “Makerhood,” an affordable live/work center for makers, entrepreneurs and micro-manufacturers that would include a business incubator, coworking space, educational support, and a community event space with a monthly speaker series.
The project is being developed by Avi Telyas of Seaview Development. The Newest Americans has been providing Telyas and the project architects with information about the mansion's history from the extensive research they've conducted as part of its public digital humanities initiative, the first phase of which is being funded by a 2018 RU-N Chancellors Seed grant.
The project grew out of a larger National Endowment for the Humanities Community Conversations grant secured by Newest Americans two years ago to create the immigrant history tours of Newark.
“We’re investigating a century of Newark history through the Krueger-Scott mansion and its impact on the neighborhood,” says Raphael. “Much of the story is about migration and entrepreneurialism.
The virtual media production, which the team hopes will be ready by the end of the year, may be followed by an audio-visual history installation in the Krueger-Scott mansion once it's restored by Telyas. At least that’s the vision of Raphael, Rosen and company. Meanwhile, the team is continuing to capture and process the images forming the foundation for the project.
“Ultimately, our goal is for a wide audience to be able to explore the mansion and its history in a visually immersive way,” says Rosen.
All photos by Nora Luongo.