Augmented reality brings Coxhall Garden’s historic home, family to life 


By Shelly Gattlieb

Coxhall Gardens visitors will soon have the opportunity through virtual reality to experience what it was like to live in the historic Williams House on the property.

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Hamilton County Parks and Recreation, which manages the park at 11677 Towne Rd. in Carmel, has collaborated with Carmel-based Eidolon to incorporate a state-of-the-art augmented reality experience for visitors that allows history to come to life as they “meet” a virtual representation of pioneer builder John Williams and learn more about his family and the building’s history.

The Williams House is one of only a few remaining Italianate architectural-style historic homes in the county. It is being renovated and is temporarily not accessible to members of the public, which inspired the project to allow its history to continue to be told. Once renovations are complete, tours of the interior will become available again, and the augmented reality option will continue to be offered indefinitely.

“The Williams project allows people to gain a more personal experience and interpretation that they can do however they would like without listening to a tour guide in a large group,” said Jordan Clevenger, CEO and lead designer for Eidolon. “They can experience it at their own pace.”

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The historic Williams home in Carmel’s Coxhall Gardens. (Photo courtesy of Hamilton County Parks and Recreation)

Smartphone users can download an app that will allow them to connect to the structure’s story using augmented reality. A digitally animated likeness of Williams will take visitors back in time to 1865, when the home was built.

Clevenger said the project involved a great amount of research to make the experience as accurate as possible.

“On the tech side, the main focus was on making sure that John Williams was as true to himself as possible, focusing on making sure there was extensive research into his likeness, outfit, even his voice,” Clevenger said. “We spent time making sure that all of these crucial details are very specific so people are getting the closest representation of him as possible, so the experience was more personal.”

The free app may be downloaded through the Google Play Store (for Android) and the iOS App store (for Apple and iPhone products).