Remembering Newtown Discussion Q&A

Remembering Newtown

Participants of the Remembering Newtown event generated the following questions and comments. Please feel free to continue the conversation by leaving a comment to address any of these questions or to ask new ones. Please check back periodically as updates will be posted as they become available.

What can we learn from the destruction of Newtown?

What is the best way to remember this place?

Has the City of Harrisonburg (management & city council) formally recognized this disrespect & injustice?
No, they have not.

Would it be helpful for that to happen?

What is the date of the picture that appeared in the paper?
About 1969

Were any trade-offs considered in making the decision?
City Council and downtown merchants were extremely concerned about the increasing loss of revenues downtown. One of the key concerns was parking.

What was the quality of life in Newtown before the R16 Project?
Quality of life in the R-16 section of town was high. Sections of the R-4 are, particularly Effinger, Kelley, and Johnson streets were, indeed, blighted: houses with dirt floors, no plumbing etc.

Is a confession of what was done in the name of progress in order?

What happened with the funds they got for redevelopment?
A full answer would require an extensive investigation, but it appears that developers made a great deal of money from the projects.

I would like to know more about the second displacement.

There are many stories in the ground for archaeology to tell about Newtown.

What happened to the faculty when Simms closed?

What happened to the sense of community?

Will these images be available online?
The images will be available on-line soon.

Were there any identifiable benefits to the community from the R16 Project? What did the city gain?
A number of community members did receive new and much improved housing through the urban renewal projects.

Would Harrisonburg do it again?

What were the unintended consequences?

How do we decide what historical things to preserve?

How did R16 affect transportation for the residents of Newtown?

Save our bungalows and farmhouses! Eminent domain just happened on Regent St. People were still paid low money.

Rockingham is a “business-friendly” zone. Does that presume no long range planning; no regulation of new construction; no sustainable design; no sustainable practices?

Economic base of Harrisonburg is eroding as old houses filled with section eight residents and single family homes are bought by investors who then rent them out.

Where will pictures be housed permanently?
The original pictures are now in the Special Collections section of JMU’s Carrier Library, and available for study during working hours.

How could Harrisonburg help with the Newtown Cemetery Project?

What could help address the generational trauma active in this situation? How do we honor, respect, and empower those who were dishonored, disrespected, and dis-empowered?

How did the Quillen Optical Building survive?

Are there former and current Newtown residents would welcome an apology from city leadership for injury from the renewal process?
Several residents who have been contacted are not in favor of a formal apology, feeling that those responsible are no longer in power and that it would now be divisive.

Can we discuss Karen’s point about the need for investment in the NE neighborhood as a way of healing & reconciliation? And get suggestions?

Where did the name Cantrell come from?
You can find an article at Old South High on this question.

What are the facts of the destruction of Newtown in the name of urban renewal?

Where did the name “Newtown” come from?

What was the black population back then compared to today?

Second time Newtown Community was displaced by Housing Authority (Karen Thomas referred to this). We need more education on this (city of Harrisonburg residents) & assurance that the community will be involved in future decisions.

What took HRHA so long to release these pictures?

How do you feel this discussion will make a difference in this community?

There was a wealth transfer with R4. The fire marshal devalued homes (up to 1/3). The city bought the properties at low cost and made significant ‘profit’ – some of the profit was to individuals. With that in mind – should the city be obligated to reinvest? How can that happen?

Were the fields Doris Allen mentioned used for livestock?

Where can we view the video about Simms School which Charlie Chenault referenced?

Where can we buy Keeping Up With Yesterday – Tolliver?
It’s for sale at the Harrisonburg Rockingham Historical Society

I saw the destruction, for urban development, of a major non-residential section of downtown Lancaster, PA during the late 1960s and early 1970s – the area consisted of small and large businesses, restaurants, movie theaters, a large YMCA, for two parking decks, a department store (that failed), a replacement hotel and a skywalk monstrosity (that was ugly, useless and was later torn down). Many of us considered it a major loss. The mayor later went to federal prison (related to kickbacks).

One Comment

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