Wiregrass Museum of Art
126 Museum Avenue
Dothan, Houston County, Alabama, 36303
Photo: License: Public Domain
The Wiregrass Museum of Art is an art museum in Dothan, Alabama.
The museum was founded in 1988 and is located in the city's former power and water plant. The museum was founded in 1988, in response to a magazine article that named Dothan as one of the worst places in the United States to live. It hosts traveling exhibits, as well as its permanent collection of American contemporary and pop art.
The new plant was built in 1912–13 and consisted of a powerhouse, garage and tool shed, cooling pond, coal yard, two pump houses, machine storage building, small tool shed, covered reservoir, substation, auxiliary reservoir, underground gasoline tank, two scales, a well, and two small office buildings. At the time, it was the only coal-fired power plant in the Wiregrass Region. The station contained two 3,000-Kw generators and a large water pump with a 1 million-gallon storage tank. The city used the plant as a promotional tool to attract new industry to the region, advertising cheap energy rates.
By 1928, the plant had become expensive to operate and was shut down, with the city receiving electricity from Alabama Power's hydroelectric facilities. The city made improvements to the power plant and took over supply in 1933.
Alabama Power began supplying some electricity to the city once more in 1942, and by 1949 had completely taken over supply. The generators and water pumps were removed, and the building was used as offices and storage by the city. The Wiregrass Museum of Art moved into the building in the early 1990s.
Of the original complex, only the powerhouse remains standing today. The powerhouse is divided into three sections: the two-story, flat-roofed front section was used as offices; the hip roofed middle section originally housed the generators; and the rear section, separated from the middle by a stepped brick firewall, was used for coal storage.
The façade of the building is five bays wide, with a recessed entrance. The entrance is topped with a fanlight and decorative brick and granite arch. Windows on the façade were originally six-over-six sashes, but have since been replaced with single fixed panes. The building has a corbelled and denticulated parapet with a granite tablet inscribed with "Municipal Light & Water Plant - Built 1912–13".
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