Pickrick Restaurant Augmented Reality Project


We are exploring Augmented Reality as a way of making history visible in a location-based installation that recreates events that happened over 8 months in the 1960s, on a site that is now part of the Georgia Tech campus.

On July 3 1964, the day after the Civil Rights Act was passed, George Willis, Jr, Albert L. Dunn, and Woodrow T. Lewis, all ministers and students at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, attempted to gain entry to the Pickrick restaurant a notorious bastion of resistance to integration. The events of that day became the basis of the first lawsuit brought under that Act, filed by the legendary Constance Baker Motley of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Over the next few months the owner of the restaurant, future Georgia governor Lester Maddox, tried renaming the restaurant and changing the signage to evade the legal process, but a rotating group of non-violent protesters risked violence at the hands of armed mobs in order to repeatedly demonstrate that the restaurant was acting in violation of the Civil Rights Act. They eventually forced Maddox to close and so that on February 23 1965 Jack Googer, who worked on Peachtree Street, was able to peacefully sit down to lunch in the now renamed Gateway Cafeteria. Soon after, the restaurant was bought by Georgia Tech, and after about 50 years of use as an administration building and a campus police station, it has now been torn down to make way for the Eco-Commons.

Our project is an exercise in using Augmented Reality storytelling to make the invisible visible in two ways. First we are working to project the image of the building and animated recreations of the protests onto the very changed current landscape. Second, we are attempting to beyond the usual protagonist of the story – the segregationist fried chicken seller -- to bring into the non-violent protesters into the foreground.

Our project aims to foreground the lawyers and activists student ministers who brought suit under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to integrate the Pickrick cafeteria, in contrast to the usual narrative focus on the segregationist restaurant owner who went on to be elected governor of Georgia.

Historical Consultants

Karsheik Sims-Alvarado, Asst Prof. Morehouse College 
Todd Michney, Assoc. Prof., Georgia Tech

Project Year
Project Leads
Janet Murray, PI & Executive Producer
Yuchen Zhao, DM PhD Student, Project Manager
Brandy Pettijohn, DM PhD Student, Lead Historical Researcher & Interpreter
Austin Peete (Interface prototyping and research)
Kshitij Gupta (Image support)
Daniel Keehn (Unity programming)
Angela Dai (Unity programming)
Amanda Wang (Chief Modeler)
Joy Dang (Programming support)
Contact Email