There is more to Dothan than meets the Eye

Day 1748

     Back in the 1800’s what we call water towers were called standpipes. The Dothan Dixie Standpipe stands one hundred feet tall and sixteen feet in diameter. The city’s early growth is a result of pure and plentiful water. The Standpipe sits atop a 625 foot deep artesian well which began supplying fresh water to the city of Dothan on April 5th, 1897. The Dothan Dixie Standpipe is the oldest continuously operating water tower in the State of Alabama.

     Hand me my wrench, please. 

     This Atlantic Coastline passenger station was constructed by the Atlantic Coastline Railroad in 1907 during Dothan’s rapid growth as a commercial center. This station served Dothan until 1979. 

     The station is guarded by the Gargoyle.

     As stated yesterday, the current prominent industry of Dothan is peanuts. A closer look at this industry and how it effected Dothan is located in the George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum. Unfortunately, the building was locked.

     I called the museum, no one answered. I left a message and did not receive a return call. I don’t know if it was locked because of the china virus or, like a greater part of downtown, is abandoned.

     The old downtown commercial center of Dothan appears to be mostly vacant and run down. The buildings span the period of Dothan’s early growth from 1885 to 1930.

     During this time Dothan grew from a small rural town into the trade and transportation nucleus of the area, the last area of Alabama to be settled and developed.

     This section of the city began losing its importance as a commercial hub in the late 1960’s when retail businesses began moving to outlying shopping centers and malls, abandoning many buildings. 

     By 1992, most of the shops and business had left in favor of Ross Clark Circle’s busy traffic, shopping center, and malls. This is what we have all come to expect as a downtown modern center. 

     A small group of citizens began the process of bringing downtown back as an attraction, commissioning murals to be painted on the historic buildings left vacant. There are currently 19 murals, including a hidden mural inside the Dothan Opera House. 

     We tried to enter the Opera House, but like most of the other buildings it was locked, with no notice or explanation. The Opera House was built as a municipal auditorium by the growing town. Seating 800, it opened October 8, 1915, with a performance by a local orchestra. The 3 story masonry structure remains basically unaltered from its original plan. A new civic center was built across the street in 1971. 

     On February 9, 1903 delegates from this area formed a new County from three existing counties and named it Houston after former Governor George S. Houston. In March of that year an election was held and Dothan was named the new county seat. In 1905 the Houston County courthouse was dedicated. In 1960 that building was torn down and this building was constructed, which opened in April 1962 in the same spot as the original:

     A few blocks away is the Federal Courthouse, all in the new section of Dothan.