Landmark Park, located in Dothan in Houston County, is Alabama's official museum of agriculture. This 100-acre science and history museum is a nonprofit organization, supported by memberships and grants. The park is owned by Dothan Landmarks Foundation and run by an elected board of directors who each serve a three-year term.
Highlights at Landmark Park include the Wiregrass Farmstead, an 1890s farm complete with period buildings, animals, and crops. The Waddell Farmhouse, which once stood at a major intersection in Dothan and was moved to the park in 1978, is the focal point of the farm. The park is also home to several other historic buildings donated and moved to the site, including the Headland Presbyterian Church, Martin Drugstore, Shelley General Store, Browns Crossroads one-room schoolhouse, and a Victorian style gazebo.
In 1976, Dothan Landmarks Foundation was formed to preserve historic sites around Dothan. Fifty acres of land were donated by the McFatter family, in addition to three acres donated by Dr. Sam West, his wife Donna, and his brother Lewe West. The foundation purchased an additional 45 acres in April 1993. The park continued to grow as buildings were donated and moved to the property. The Interpretive Center opened in 1985 during Dothan's Centennial Celebration. In 1992, a joint resolution, passed by both houses of the Alabama legislature, designated Landmark Park as Alabama's official museum of agriculture.
Landmark Park hosts many thousands of visitors each year from all over the world and numerous groups of schoolchildren from the area who come to the park to learn about the history of the Wiregrass region. Walks around the elevated boardwalk and nature trail, planetarium shows, and wildlife exhibits also offer ways to explore science and nature. In 2008, more than 44,000 people visited the park.
The park charges a small daily admission fee, but nearby individuals and families also have the option of paying one flat membership rate and in return receiving free admission for a full year, a subscription to the quarterly newsletter, advance notice of workshops, on subjects such as creating bird-friendly gardens and farming, and free admission to special events.
Special events each year include Spring Farm Day on the third Saturday in March, the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social on the fourth Saturday in June, Wiregrass Heritage Festival on the fourth Saturday in October, and Victorian Christmas on the second Sunday in December. Special events at Landmark Park focus on past methods of farming with reenactments, demonstrations, and hands-on activities including butter churning, weaving, spinning, and cooking on an open hearth and wood stove.
Landmark Park has a full time staff of seven, and volunteers donate thousands of hours of labor to the park (more than 8,000 hours in 2008). The state employs a farm manager to support the Agricultural Museum.
Published July 14, 2009
Last updated April 4, 2013