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Dothan, Alabama

Dothan is a city located in the southeastern corner of the U.S. state of Alabama. It is the seat of Houston County, and portions of the city are in Dale County and Henry County. The city's name derives from a town mentioned in a Bible verse, Genesis 37:17 - "For I heard them say, let us go to Dothan." As of the 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the city's population was 64,053. It is the principal city of the Dothan, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties. The small portion of Dothan that lies in Dale County is part of the EnterpriseOzark Micropolitan Statistical Area.


In the late 1700s and 1800s, horse and ox-drawn covered wagons from Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida creaked and groaned across the South as pioneer families searched for a place to build new homes and to start a new life. Those pioneers who passed through the vast pine forests in the southeast corner of the territory (that was to later become the state of Alabama), would often stop at a spring known as Poplar Head, where they would camp for a while and rest. Most of those early travelers believed that the sandy soil which nurtured the thick pine forests would not be suitable for farming, so they moved on.

Poplar Head, named for the poplar trees that encircled the glade where the "head" (as springs were often called) welled from the earth, was where ancient Indian trails met, crossed, and then continued on. The spring was often used by Indians from the various tribes of the Creek Confederacy as a meeting place and as a campground. In the 1830s a fort existed on the Barber Plantation, ten or twelve miles (19 km) east of Poplar Head, where the settlers from the surrounding town and hamlets could go when they felt threatened by the Indians. By 1840, the Indian wars in Alabama were over and the fort soon disappeared.

By 1885, the hamlet had grown into a village. The new settlers realized that if the community's growth was to be sustained, they would need a governing body and local law enforcement. On November 10, 1885, the people of Poplar Head voted to incorporate and re-name the village Dothan, after it was discovered that a "Poplar Head" post office already existed in northern Alabama. The city of Dothan was incorporated on November 11, 1885.

Original inhabitants were the Alabama and Creek Native American tribes.

Hyman Blumberg settled in Dothan in 1892 and started a retail apparel business. He married his sweetheart from Baltimore, Maryland, Esther, and together they had six sons and one daughter, all of whom were active in building the largest department store in southeast Alabama. It was the first store in Dothan to install a moving escalator; people would come from many miles away just to ride this new innovation. Blumberg's and Sons was the first full line department store in Dothan and drew customers from as far away as Georgia and Florida. The store closed in 1975, but the Blumbergs remain a prominent family in Dothan.

In 1902, Dothan resident W. M. Cooper released a revision of B. F. White's popular tune book, The Sacred Harp.

Dothan also took part in the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Famous residents, past and present

Dothan is the birthplace of Johnny Mack Brown (1904-1974), an All-American college football player and successful film actor. Actors William Gray Espy, (the original Snapper of the long-running CBS soap opera, The Young and the Restless), and Donna D'Errico were also born in Dothan. Singer Bobby Goldsboro, famous for his 1968 Top 40 #1 hit "Honey" as well as many other Top 40 releases of the 1960s and early 1970s, grew up in Dothan and graduated from Dothan High School, though he was born in Marianna, Florida. Farley Taylor, heard nationwide on his radio show "The Old Taylor-Made Opry", lived most of his life in Dothan and broadcast his radio show from WTVY-FM there. Former Alabama Attorney General and Lt. Governor Bill Baxley, famous for prosecuting the 16th St. Baptist Church bombings, was born and raised in Dothan. Movie Gallery CEO Joe Malugen is a current resident of Dothan. Former Miss America, Heather Whitestone, also was born and raised in Dothan. Matt Cain, a starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, was born in Dothan. Artis Gilmore, Jacksonville University center and later MVP of the ABA, attended junior high and high school in Dothan. Former Playboy model Nicole Holland (List of Playboy NSS models G-R) was born and raised in Dothan. Gardner Dickinson, a 7-time PGA Tour champion golfer was born in Dothan.

Another Dothan native is "The Wrestling Pro" Leon Baxter, who was a professional wrestler. He got his start in the 1960s, wrestling all over the South as "Tarzan Baxter." He feuded with wrestling legend Danny Hodge and teamed with Juan Sebastian as The Masked Guachos, then hit it big in the Gulf Coast area as "The Wrestling Pro" in the 1970s. Baxter went on to have a short feud with legendary world heavyweight champion Lou Thesz and a rookie named Terry "The Hulk" Boulder, later known as Hulk Hogan.

Also, local figure "Dancin' Dave" is well known by the residents of Dothan. He walks the streets regularly dressed in white. His nickname comes from his reputation for tap-dancing for a quarter.

Dothan is also home to Corey Bigbie, better known for his rap monicker, Big DJ B. Big DJ B is an underground artist who has already auditioned for Bad Boy Entertainment, and has yet to be signed.

Dothan is also the hometown for professional skateboarder Jamie Thomas, who went on to create two skateboard companies and a shoe company. He was featured as a playable character in the first five Tony Hawk video games, though at least one instruction booklet erroneously lists his current residence as his hometown. He also won an "Entrepreneur of The Year" award in 2006.

In 2007, a Dothan resident named Steven was one of the contestants on the MTV show, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.


Dothan is located at (31.227225, -85.407258).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 86.8 square miles (224.9 km²), of which, 86.6 square miles (224.3 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (0.23%) is water.

Dothan is the self-proclaimed "Hub of the Wiregrass" of southeastern Alabama.

Dothan is also commonly referred to in the Wiregrass region of Alabama as "The Circle City", due to Alabama State Route 210 also known as Ross Clark Circle, which encircles the interior region of the city.


Dothan has a humid subtropical climate. It experiences hot, humid summers and generally mild winters, with average high temperatures ranging from 93.0 °F (33.9 °C) in the summer to 59.0 °F (15 °C) high during winter.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high
°F (°C)
Average low
°F (°C)
53.2 (11.8)
Average rainfall: inches/mm 6.3
56.1 /


As of the census estimate of 2005, there were 62,145 people, 23,685 households, and 17,108 families residing in the city. The population density was 667.7 people per square mile (257.4/km²). There were 27,908 housing units at an average density of 299.3/sq mi (115.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.33% white, 30.11% black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander American, 0.46% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. 1.32% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 27,908 households, out of which 31.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.3% were non-families. 28.4% of all households are made up of individuals, and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39, and the average family size was 2.94. 70% of women with school-age children work.

In the city the population is spread out, with 25.4% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who are 65 or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females, there are 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males. 22% of adults have never married. 55% are currently married. 3% are separated. 12% are divorced. 9% are widowed.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,000, and the median income for a family was $45,025. Males had a median income of $34,475 versus $22,572 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,539. About 12.7% of families and 15.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.2% of those under age 18 and 15.0% of those age 65 or over.

Approximately 79% of residents completed high school, while 23% went on to complete college. 8% of the population has a graduate or professional degree. 6% are unemployed. Average commute to work time is 18 minutes.


The majority of K-12 students in Dothan and Houston County attend Dothan City Schools or Houston County Schools. Though many attend local private schools such as Houston Academy , Providence Christian School, Northside Methodist Academy, Emmanuel Christian School, or Westgate Christian School. Institutes of higher education include Troy University, Dothan Campus, Wallace Community College and Bethany Divinity College & Seminary.


Most Christians in Dothan attend Southern Baptist churches. There are also Churches of Christ, Methodist, Presbyterian, AME, Freewill, Episcopal and various Evangelical churches among Dothan's Protestant churches. St Columba Catholic Church is currently expanding to better serve their congregation. Dothan also has a Reform Jewish synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, which offered Jewish families as much as $50,000 to relocate to Dothan in 2008.


After the boll weevil brought about the local death of "King Cotton," Dothan-Houston County found a new crop: peanuts. Dothan is home to the National Peanut Festival, established in 1938 and held each fall to honor peanut growers and celebrate the harvest. Approximately half of all peanuts produced in the United States are grown within a radius of Dothan. Cotton is again increasing in importance.

The city of Dothan currently is undergoing a large economic boom, with a number of multi-million dollar retail centers in their planning or pre-construction stages.

The people of Dothan enjoy one of the lowest costs of living in the country. Dothan was rated #1 by US News and World Report in 2006 as the cheapest city to live in, due to low local taxes. Sales tax is a large source of revenue for the city, thanks to retail and restaurant businesses impacted by the large number of travelers on Highway 231, and because Dothan is the largest city within a radius of . Dothan's economy includes agriculture, aerospace, distribution, retail, and advanced technology.

Dothan's healthcare system is among the highest rated and most affordable in the country, due to its being the home of two hospitals: Southeast Alabama Medical Center and Flowers Hospital. The two hospitals are the largest employers in Houston County. According to a 2003 study, fewer than 10% of Dothan area residents, or 14,156 people, have no health insurance.*

Movie Gallery, the second largest video rental chain in the United States opened its first store in Dothan in 1985 and maintains its headquarters there.

Fort Rucker, the home of Army aviation, is located about west of the city.


Dothan has been served by regional airlines through Dothan Regional Airport and is 25 minutes away from a connecting flight to almost anywhere in the world via six daily flights to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The regional airport was relocated to Napier Field in 1965, although a push to move the airport was started in the early 1950s by then-Mayor Richmond C. McClintock. Jet service began in 1968 with Southern Airways' acquisition of DC-9 aircraft.

Dothan is also served by several different rail lines. Most notable of these is CSX's Dothan Subdivision. The Bay Line, H&S Railroad, and the Chattahoochee & Gulf all have tracks in the Dothan area.

The Dothan area has been contending for a potential I-10 connector out of Florida.

Area attractions

  • Adventureland Theme Park is an elaborate mini-theme park that is family-oriented. It includes two 18-hole miniature golf courses with waterfalls, lagoons and elaborate landscaping, a figure-eight go-cart track with a double underpass bridge and Indy-style karts, bumper boats, batting cages, a Max Flight roller coaster simulator, a large arcade and snack bar.
  • US Army Aviation Museum - Housing one of the largest helicopter collections in the world, the US Army Aviation Museum focuses on the role of fixed and rotor wing flight in the U.S. Army. The exhibits depict over 50 years of history of Army Aviation, and include a number of life size dioramas, films, and interpretive material.
  • Dr. George Washington Carver Monument , located at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds, pays tribute to one of the nation's greatest educators and agricultural researchers, whose work resulted in the creation of 325 products from peanuts, more than 100 products from sweet potatoes and hundreds more from a dozen other plants native to the South. These products contributed to rural economic improvement by offering alternative crops to cotton that were beneficial for the farmers and for the land.
  • Dothan Area Botanical Gardens - Enjoy the old Southern-style of gardening, and see what works in the Wiregrass. A tranquil, paved nature trail meanders through a beautiful rose garden, through herbs, daylilies, camellias, azaleas, past a peaceful pond, Victorian gazebo and a demonstration garden.
  • Dothan Opera House, built in 1915, represents the elegance of turn-of-the-century southern life. Theatre performances, spectacular concerts, symphonies, ballet performances, and many other cultural events are regularly held in this landmark. Tours are available upon request.
  • Eastgate Park is a country estate, complete with lodge and meeting facilities. It includes fishing lakes, a two-mile (3 km) walking trail, sand volley ball, swimming pool (for private parties only), picnic area and lighted tennis courts. Additional amenities are under development.
  • Featured Players Theatre Founded in 2005, the Featured Players Theatre is Dothan's new home for live entertainment. Located at 158 S. Foster St. in downtown Dothan, Featured Players has live plays five months out of the year and local musical acts the other seven. Featured Players is open every Friday and Saturday night for your entertainment needs.
  • Press Thornton Future Masters Golf Tournament has been held annually since 1950 in early July. More than 600 junior golfers participate in this part of the Junior Grand Slam of Golf hosted by the Dothan Country Club.
  • Highland Oaks Golf Course is part of Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and proclaimed by Golf Digest as the 7th best public course in the US. This world-class 36-hole facility offers three championship 9-hole courses, plus a 9-hole Par 3 course. The Clubhouse includes a pro shop, dining room, lounge and meeting room.
  • "Joseph" statue at Millennium Park is a ten feet tall cast bronze sculpture, located in the historic downtown area. It depicts the Bible verse, "For I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan" (Genesis 37:17), which inspired city founders in 1885 to change the name of the town from Poplar Head to Dothan.
  • Landmark Park Agricultural Museum and Starlab Planetarium is the official agriculture museum of the State of Alabama. Visit a 1900s farmstead, complete with farmhouse, outhouses, and farm animals. Stroll the boardwalk and nature trail, see a planetarium show, have a picnic, tour Phase I of the Alabama Agricultural Museum, or catch one of the park's many special events. In the Planetarium, night skies are shown as they appear in season. Constellations are displayed as they relate to mythology. The park also has a new playground. A pavilion near the playground is available for park visitors and children's parties. A recently completed barn is available for rental for large events.
  • Houston-Love Memorial Library - Located at 212 W. Burdeshaw Street in downtown Dothan across from the main post office.
  • Maria's Vineyard - Nestled in a grove of oak and pecan trees, the Vineyard offers a casual place to host an event either outside or inside in the Vineyard House.
  • National Peanut Festival - Occurs annually in November. The festival hosts competitions in different areas for all ages. A large midway, entertainment by nationally known recording artists, and the largest parade in the area are featured attractions.
  • Peanut Monument at the Visitor Information Center helps to proclaim Dothan as the Peanut Capital of the World.
  • Peanuts Around Town is a public art project organized by The Downtown Group consisting of five feet tall peanut sculptures that are decorated in various fashions and displayed around Dothan.
  • Porter Hardware is the oldest operating hardware store in Alabama. Opened in 1889 by E.R. Porter and J.D. Murphree and located at 136 East Main Street, Porter Hardware is still operated today by Mr. Porter's descendants. The interior and exterior of Porter Hardware remains virtually unaltered and it maintains a large inventory of hardware and hard-to-find items.
  • Westgate Park and Water World- Westgate Park is recognized as one of the premier parks in Alabama. The five-field complex hosts local, regional, state and national softball tournaments and is adjacent to Water World, Westgate Recreational Complex and BMX Track.
  • Water World includes ocean-size waves in the giant wave pool and twisting water slides.
  • Dothan's Westgate Tennis Center promises to be one of the very best in the Southern United States. The facility addresses the highest standards of play and the greatest comfort for spectators. Amenities include 16 lighted full-size clay tennis courts, a control center, observation deck, shade shelters and large courtyard.
  • Kiwanis Park, located on Westgate Park land fronting Whatley at the intersection with Deerpath, has playgrounds and a picnic pavilion with a water fountain and restrooms. There are also walking trails.
  • Solomon Park, located in the Garden District at the corner of Choctaw and Redwood streets, has the shadiest playground in Dothan, a real godsend in hot weather.
  • Wiregrass Festival of Murals is an ongoing project of historic murals painted by nationally and internationally acclaimed muralists on the walls of buildings in the downtown historic district. Guided tours are available upon request.
  • The Lampman Antiques and Lighting A Lighting store with a large variety of chandeliers, clocks, sconces, and many other antiques. The Lampman also offers lamp and clock repair.
  • Wiregrass Commons Mall is the only mall in the SE Alabama region. It has over of shopping and over 50 retail stores. The mall also has a food court. Anchors for the mall are JC Penney, Parisian (now Belk's) and Dillards.
  • Wiregrass Museum of Art includes five galleries feature changing exhibitions of visual and decorative arts in the historic building. Also features ARTventures, a hands-on exhibit for children and a gift gallery for shopping.
  • World's Smallest City Block is located at the intersection of North Appletree, Museum, and Troy streets in Dothan. This land triangle features a stop sign, a yield sign, a street sign, and a granite marker placed by the Camellia Garden Club on May 1 1964 stating that the block is the World's Smallest City Block.
  • Patti Rutland Jazz , is a professional contemporary jazz and hip-hop dance company located in Dothan, AL. Patti Rutland Jazz produces two full length jazz and hip-hop theatrical dance productions yearly (one in late February and one in early June) at their home in the Cultural Arts Center, as well as Dothan's historical landmark theatre The Dothan Opera House Patti Rutland Jazz operates as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization who's core mission is to provide the dancers in its company to the Wiregrass Region as teachers for under served kids to take dance classes for free. This mutually beneficial program hopes to make Dothan a destination for as well as a source for future professional dance talent in the United States.

Wiregrass BMX is a BMX racing track that is located near the westgate park. It host local state and national races between February to November.


  • Estimates of Alabama County‐Level Health Insurance Coverage Rates: Results from Alabama's 2003 Household Survey
  • Dothan, AL
  • Wiregrass churches dealing with race divide

External links

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