The building I am helping to document has gone by a multitude of names – the Bolling Jones Building, the Ivy Street Garage, the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia, and Kell Hall are just some of those bestowed upon the structure in the near century since its construction. This fact is easily written off as trivia, but it is significant when considered within the context of the work that SIF is doing to digitally preserve the building. Kell Hall: Capturing the Legacy has given me a new perspective on local historical research and has reassured me that amazing stories lie behind every corner around which one wishes to look.

Kell Hall is far from the pride of Georgia State’s campus. It’s old, it’s unorganized, it’s labyrinthine. Though not by any means averse to the work, I was not overjoyed when I was asked to document a series of oral histories on the building. But once I came into contact with the professors, some of whom were department heads, who worked and taught in the building for the majority of their careers, I soon changed my outlook.

For half a century, serious work was being done in the fields of chemistry, physics, geology, and other sciences within Kell. At the same time, countless students were given instruction in these fields. Professor Emeritus Rod Nave made physics education his life’s work after starting in the building in 1968. Though he later moved to the Natural Science Center, the courses he developed and taught in Kell led to HyperPhysics, a pioneering online project designed to teach and connect physics concepts on a freely accessible website.

I used HyperPhysics while taking a high school physics course, but I never expected to use it again. I discovered, however, that Dr. Nave also used the site to document his time at Georgia State and his family history. His online album provided an invaluable starting point to our oral history research and helped to humanize Kell Hall for me.

As work on the Kell Hall Digital Preservation Project progresses, the spirit of the building comes to life online. Archival photos are merged with present-day 3D data to give a full picture of the site, while 70 years of documents and oral histories tell the stories of those who forged its identity- and the identity of the University.

Those interested in viewing Dr. Nave’s full oral history can view it here.