By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — There is a lot of history in Newkirk’s storied Downtown district, and many life-time residents fondly remember what the community was like in years past. Many younger generations, as well as transplants from outside the community, however, don’t know what the community looked like, at least outside of history books. That is all now changing, as Newkirk Main Street (NMS) is partnering with several entities to show what modern structures once looked like at a point in history in a creative game to help get people outdoors and learning the past.
The project, known as Time Frame, it is currently under production by Trifecta Communications, with assistance from Newkirk Main Street and Ron Frantz, formerly of Oklahoma State Main Street (OSMS).
NMS Director Alyssa McCleery is excited about the project, which is expected to bring new traffic Downtown.
“This is a project that binds history to technology,” she said.
Frantz planted the seeds of the project after many years of working with small-town Main Street organizations like Newkirk. He currently is an architecture professor in the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, but previously served as the architect for OSMS, helping businesses redefine their image.
“I was architect for the Main Street program, and did all of the drawings of the facades when the owners wanted to improve,” he said.
Working with the OSMS organization, he envisioned a history tour of historic, small town communities.
“I had been in talks with people at Trifecta communications about doing walking tours in a photo-based app,” he said.
He also has a history of working with NMS from when the organization was inaugurated in 1992. It was from that experience that he wanted NMS to be first for the rollout.
“I have been working with the fine volunteers at NMS since the summer of 1990, and since they joined OMSA in 1992,” he said. “Newkirk came to mind because they were one of the first small towns to join OMSA in the 1990s, and I knew the volunteers really well for many years.”
Trifecta Communications was quick to join with the project, as they specialize in new technology, something that was already perfect for the project.
“We specialize in ‘augmented reality,’” Trifecta Communications CEO Brent Wheelbarger said. “Time Frame is basically taking historic photographs and attaching them to an actual GPS location.”
All locations are in the Historic Downtown District.
Time Frame representatives compassed Downtown Newkirk a year ago to find locations that could be included, and searched for historical photographers that could be used in the project.
“NMS hosted the groups that were coming here and doing the work of the project, identifying the historic photographs,” McCleery said. “We had to identify the current locations of the photographs, and we also assisted in the script writing.”
Assisting with the project was the Newkirk Historical Society, and former NMS Director Karen Dye and her book, “Carved in Stone.”
The program is still under final development, it will be available to smart devices for both Apple and Android devices.
The program is compared to Pokémon Go, where users are sent on a sort of scavenger hunt in the community; in this case, of historic buildings Downtown.
“All these photos are attached to GPS coordinates in the cloud, and you can’t use them unless you have the app,” Wheelbarger said.
Once the participants are at the location, they will move their mobile device to see the historic photo overlayed on the current structure.
“You take the device and hold it in front of the building, so you see the current structure, but the historic photograph will overlay on the mobile device,” McCleery said.
The project is still a work-in-progress, and is expected to be rolled out in April, with many more communities added in the future.
“This is still in the development stage, and is not launch-ready,” McCleery said
Once unrolled it is expected to change the Downtown landscape, and get people out to enjoy the streets, even if it’s for a mobile app.
“It encourages people to get outdoors, into our historic district,” McCleery said.