CCHS – in an exciting new partnership with Ball State University history and technology students – will unveil a new interactive “historic walking tour app” to make it even easier for fans of local history to connect with our past.
The new app will be launched April 20 at an interactive press conference at 3 p.m. in front of Bub’s Burgers at Main Street and the Monon Greenway. Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard will be the first person to inaugurate its operation.
The new app uses GPS coordinates to indicate the location of historic sites throughout Carmel, and users can turn on their own location as they walk through the Arts & Design District and Old Town areas. Phase I of the app focused on sites in Old Town, but Ball State students are already working on Phase II, which will feature sites all over Clay Township – including historic farms like Lynnwood Farm, street views of residential neighborhoods, and historic homes like the McShane home that was saved from demolition four years ago.
“One of the most fascinating elements of the app is the overlay of a historic photo of a structure with a contemporary photo of it. People can literally slide the photo back and forth to compare the structure’s appearance 100 years ago with what it looks like today,” said Carmel Clay Historical Society Executive Director Emily Ehrgott. “We can add to the app at any time, incorporating local sites on the National Register of Historic Places or even the stories behind the statues in the Arts & Design District. The possibilities are endless.”
Those on the walking tour will be able to see at each site a historic photograph, a written narrative of the site’s significance and an audio recording of that narrative. This allows people walking the trail to appreciate the history without having to stop and read.
The partnership with Ball State is a new one for the Historical Society and was made possible by generous grants from the City of Carmel’s Arts Grant program and the Hamilton County Tourism office.
Students from different disciplines researched and wrote the histories of the sites, photographed them, recorded the audio component, and wrote the computer code to create the app itself.
“This project meant a lot to me, because it was a great opportunity to use what I’ve learned through my degree, as well as to learn new skills that I could utilize in my future career,” said BSU student Braydon Fox, who worked extensively on the project. “Prior to this project, I had no real web programming experience. I only knew what I had researched on my own in my free time. Throughout this project, I’ve learned many useful web development skills while building an application for a real-world client, which is something future employers will love to see on my resume.”
Professor Ron Morris is teaching the class that initiated the project and approached the CCHS about the partnership.
“I think that the experience of getting to work with the Carmel Clay Historical Society and the City of Carmel will help the Ball State students create multiple ways for the people in the community to discover their heritage,” said Morris. “The mobile experience allows students, visitors, or community members explore the history of their community through their phone, tablet, or lap top from their school, walking in the community, or driving to explore the history of their home.”
After Mayor Brainard launches the app, it will be available free on the CCHS website.