Digitally Re-Constructing Rosewood
A variety of methods were utilized to virtually reconstruct Rosewood. One of the most important aspects of reconstructing this vanished landscape was accurately locating structures that no longer exist. Traditionally, archaeologists would rely on a variety of methods to accomplish this including on-the-ground surveying, limited testing of subsurface features, remote sensing technologies, and full excavations once structures were identified. Presently, this aspect of the research proecess is still in the preliminary stages as traditional archaeology remains difficult given the ephemeral nature of historic Florida structures, nearly a century of active looting, and the reticence of some to researching this painful history.
Re-Mapping Historic Property Ownership
Reconstructing a virtual version of Rosewood requires, at the very least, a basic spatial template locating structures on the landscape. To accomplish this, a geographic information system (GIS) was constructed combining property deeds, census records, and historic aerial photographs. This methodology involves the following steps: (1) identify the appropriate historic property records, (2) translate the boundary information in the document into a GIS file, (3) identify the owner in the census, (4) add census data to the GIS record, and (5) overlay this information on other forms of data including aerial photographs from the 1940s to help visualize the exact locations of structures. In regards to Rosewood, these steps are repeated hundreds of times for a period beginning in the 1860s and continuing until the 1930s, providing a basic template for the virtual reconstruction.
(re)Building a 3D Rosewood
The final step is to re-create the town of Rosewood and its environs in full 3D. Since little photographic evidence exists of Rosewood as it stood prior to 1923 (most family records were destroyed in the houses as they burned), a variety of data are being combined to guide the 3D reconstructions of these structures. These data include oral histories by survivors and descendants describing the buildings. In addition, similar structures in nearby communities are being architecturally documented to serve as a starting point to conjecturally reconstruct the buildings in the vicinity of Rosewood. To learn more about this aspect of the project, please see the VR page on this site.