“When you look at the historic photograph of Squires, many people are going to think it’s not even the same building, but it really is, and the original façade is still inside the existing building, and they just added a new façade on it,” Nicholson said. “People walking through the halls of Squires now might think those arches are just kind of a grand entrance into an interior space, but that really used to be the exterior of the building.”
On the other hand, an example of a building staying the same is the Smithfield Plantation, built in 1774, and it looks almost exactly it did (when it was built), said Nicholson.
Diane Hoover, the manager of the Smithfield Plantation Museum store, said that the museum store carries books on history that pertain to the interpretation of the house and also local books of historical significance.
She will be hosting authors Fisher and Nicholson for another book signing today, July 4th, at the museum’s store.
In compiling and comparing the photographs for this book, the process was three-tiered. To begin, Fisher and Nicholson started looking for historic photographs. Then, they would try to capture the vantage point of a modern picture to its historic counterpart. Finally, they would write corresponding captions and descriptions for the modern/historic comparison.
“Special collections at Virginia Tech in the library there was one of our major resources,” Nicholson said. “We had several local collectors and private collectors, who gave us access to their collections.
“And then the museum itself has some of its own collections that we were able to use, some of which had not been published before.”
Nicholson said that when finding the vantage of some of the buildings, it was challenging to capture the same one as the historic picture due to trees or buildings that are there now.
“So what we did in those cases was if something was in the way, we would try to take a photograph from similar vantage point so that you can at least recognize the changes and why that vantage point was different,” he said.
The authors’ final step was writing captions for the photographs to explain the transition of the buildings’ use over time.
"Blacksburg: Then and Now" can be found in various local bookstores, the Tech bookstores and other local vendors, such as the Smithfield Plantation’s museum shop and the Blacksburg Museum.