Dothan, Alabama was founded in 1885, and about 100 years later the very first mural was painted downtown to begin telling the story of a city built on peanuts and ingenuity.
“Salute to the Peanut Industry,” painted by Susan Tooke and Bruce Rickett in 1993, depicts the growth of the peanut industry and pays homage to the town’s infamous title: “Peanut Capital of the World.”
Fast forward to 2015: 23 murals painted by a plethora of gifted artists decorate downtown Dothan. Each one tells a story about the events and inhabitants that make the city unique… but at the time, nobody was looking.
Murals of the Wiregrass, an organization founded to preserve the murals as well as commission new pieces, was ready to get the ball rolling on a new local wildlife mural; however, the public interest (and the funding) wasn’t there.
BFC Management stepped in to help find a solution, and thus, Adopt-a-Mural was born. Through face-to-face interactions, direct mail, and email, we solicited local businesses to sponsor individual murals of their choice at varying price points. Sponsorships lasted three years and the funds went toward the commissioning of the local wildlife mural.
Within a matter of months, several murals had been adopted by business owners who saw the connection between the history depicted and their current livelihoods. Steamboat Custom Homes sponsored the Steamboat Mural, and Mike Schmitz Automotive Group adopted the Tribute to Sherman Rose as well as the Tuskegee Airmen Mural, just to name a few.
However, we knew that support for these works of art couldn’t be solely financial, so upon being awarded two grants to pay for the curriculum, BFC also aided in creating a history program based on the murals for local schools.
With the funds from mural adoptions rolling in and public interest picking back up, Murals of the Wiregrass was able to begin work on the local wildlife piece. The animals and terrain depicted on the mural are native to the area, specifically Farley Nuclear Plant, which only uses about 400 acres of their 1,850-acre plant site for electric generation - the rest is a nationally certified wildlife refuge.
“Our top priority at Plant Farley is the safety and health of the communities we serve… We are committed to environmental stewardship because it is simply the right thing to do.”
— Neecie Tarrant, APSO member and Plant Farley spokesperson
In 2016, Artist Eddie LeRoy completed Dothan’s 24th mural: a massive, lifelike work of art featuring wild turkey, quail, deer, bobcats, red foxes, and more.
Since the completion of the local wildlife mural in 2016, all of the murals have been promoted as must-sees for tourists and locals alike. As a result, art tourism increased in the area and several more paintings have been commissioned and completed. You can read more about Dothan’s murals at https://visitdothan.com/visit/murals