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Neighborhood Center Named for NASA Mathematician Mary Jackson

In Olde Hampton, Virginia, the city is building a new recreational center and its set to break ground on the Mary Jackson Neighborhood Center on Feb. 5, 2020.

Named for the pioneering mathematician who worked as a forerunner of NASA, the coming center near Grant Circle would be a focal point of Olde Hampton, where Jackson hailed, bounded by Settlers Landing Road, and Armistead, West Pembroke and LaSalle avenues.

Jackson, along with Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, became the inspiration for the novel “Hidden Figures.” Written by Hampton native Margot Lee Shetterly, it captures the story of the trailblazing trio and their crucial work with orbital calculations at NASA Langley Research Center that help send America to space.

The Mary Jackson Center has gone through many design changes. The final product expects to have indoor basketball courts, multipurpose rooms, a kitchen, restrooms, and a fitness area, the city’s director of parks and recreation David McCauley told the City Council.

“The center will have its own character, with interior and exterior graphic displays,” McCauley said.

Some interior graphic design possibilities would include a series of panels to honor the life and legacy of Mary Jackson and the history of the neighborhood tracing back to the days of the contraband villages during the Civil War.