Dothan, AL - You may know WTVY is located in Downtown Dothan. We call the old Houston Hotel home, but it's been more than a hotel and television station.
For about 15 years, hundreds of students walked into this building to learn about English, math and history. But when they left, maybe they didn't realize they were making history themselves.
In 1974 Troy University began offering classes in the Houston Hotel. By 1981, the college had bought the building, renovated it and gave it a new name, Houston Hall.
Tina Burnath works in the archives at Troy University. As a former student, she has fond memories of the building.
“It was fun. Just knowing it was a hotel at one time. Chatting before or after class, we'd be like what really happened in this room,” said Burnath.
She said there were a few quirks.
“There would be columns in the middle of classrooms. Where they removed a wall to make a larger room. Hallways were narrow. Stairwells were narrow.”
As you can imagine, the growing college was running out of room. In 1990, Troy University's Dothan campus moved to its current home on highway 231.
The old Houston Hall remained empty for a few years, and downtown Dothan suffered.
“At the time downtown was not prospering. It was not thriving. There were a lot of vacant buildings. So the mayor grant was aggressively recruiting tenants to occupy those buildings,” said David Woods.
In 1993, David’s dad, Charles Woods, decided to make a commitment to downtown. He moved the WTVY studios from Webb to Foster Street.
Renovations were costly. David said he probably could've built a new station for much less, but the redevelopment of downtown was more important to him.
“I think my dad if he were alive today would be very pleased that the old Houston Hotel is still occupied by WTVY today. Probably 100 or more people work in that building today, and downtown Dothan is much healthier today than prior to Channel 4 making the decision to relocate,” he said.
Charles Woods had bigger dreams for the old hotel. He had plans drawn up to turn a few floors into office space for non profits. Unfortunately, he became ill and died before that dream could come true.
We've seen many businesses open and close on Foster Street. The changes are countless, but one thing has remained strong. The Houston Hotel.