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Dothan, nicknamed ‘Peanut Capital of the World’, is the county seat of Houston County. It is located in the southeast corner of Alabama along Highway 84. Lying on the Florida border, it is a rapidly growing city and thriving community built around the landmarks of its past.
Dothan was originally populated by various indigenous people of the Alabama and Creek American tribes. In the late 1700s and 1800s, the small community was called ‘Poplar Head’ by the area's first English settlers, because of the poplar trees that encircled the glade where the cool water or ‘head’ (as springs were often called) welled from the earth. The glade where springs were found was often used by Indians from the various communities of the Creek Confederacy as a meeting place and as a campground.
A fort was located on the Barber Plantation, twelve miles east of Poplar Head, in the 1830s. It was the place where the settlers from the surrounding town and hamlets could go when they felt threatened by the Indians. The Indian wars in the state were over around 1840 and the fort soon disappeared. Later, when the community applied for a post office, it was found that a ‘Poplar Head’ post office already existed in northern Alabama. Residents sought a new name and the City of Dothan was incorporated on November 10, 1885. In the Bible, Dothan was a city in Samaria, whose name came from the Hebrew for "two wells."
Built in 1915, the Dothan Opera House was emblematic of turn-of-the-century southern elegance. Theatrical productions are still being held there.
Hyman Blumberg, who settled in Dothan in 1892, was active in building the largest department store in southeast Alabama. This was the first store in Dothan to install a moving escalator; people would come from far-off places just to ride this new innovation. The first full-line department store, Blumberg's and Sons, drew customers from as far away as Georgia and Florida. Though the store was closed in 1975, the Blumbergs remain a prominent family in Dothan.
The first airport in Dothan was built during World War II to meet military needs. However, it was too close to the city and was abandoned after the war. The site of the airport was turned into the campus of George C. Wallace Community College. The next airport was opened in 1965, and changed its name officially in 1999 from Dothan Airport to Dothan Regional Airport. The official Agricultural Museum for the State of Alabama is Dothan Landmark Park. The Dothan Area Botanical Gardens near Landmark Park has a Victorian gazebo and a demonstration garden. The National Peanut Festival is an annual event held in October and November, celebrating the peanut. Dr. George Washington Carver Monument on the festival's fairgrounds commemorates the man who invented more than 300 uses for the peanut.
Dothan is served by the Southeast Alabama Medical Center, which opened in 1957. In addition to Wallace Community College, Dothan is home to Troy State University and Bethany Divinity College and Seminary. The Wiregrass Museum of Art, located adjacent to the Dothan Civic Center, features changing exhibitions of 19th and 20th century visual arts.
The intersection of North Appletree, Museum, and Troy streets is recorded in the Guiness Book of World Records as the world's smallest city block.
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