Landmark Park brings Wiregrass history to life

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) "We would not exist without our members and our volunteers,” said Laura Stakelum, Public Relations Director of Landmark Park. “This has always been a community effort. The way it got started and the way it maintained. We do it on a very small staff"

Landmark Park is a nonprofit with 135 acres and over 15 historic structures that preserve the natural and cultural heritage of Alabama’s Wiregrass region.

"We have a farmstead here, we have the boardwalk and nature trails which is behind the farmstead,” mention Stakelum. “That area is to preserve our natural history so we have the agriculture side on this side, and the natural history on that side."

There's an old farm house - which was landmarks park first building. Land was donated in February of 1978 to establish the park. The house was delivered to the property later that year in October on a flatbed truck.

"The Waddell House, was on Ross Clark Circle where Taj restaurant is now," explained Stakelum. "It’s one of, it not the last standing farm houses on the circle. It was going to be torn down and a group of citizens got together and said we want to preserve this house to keep our history alive."

The Park and Waddell House officially opened to the public in December 1979, during the Victorian Christmas event. Victorian Christmas is the park’s oldest event. Since then, a turn of the century church, one room school house, drugstore with working soda fountain and original furniture, and farm animals have all been added.

Along with helping the community by donating fresh produce to local food banks , the park also has multiple exhibits that educate the public. This includes an almost 1000 year old red wood tree and the only planetarium within 100 miles of Dothan.

"That's really the heart of this organization, is teaching and letting kids see what it was like to live in the 1890's," said Stakelum.

The state's official museum of agriculture is not just for kids. They host many events including a low country boil and concerts. Regardless a person's age or event they are attending , Stakelum says the park provides "great memories for them. They learn a lot and have a good time"

Landmark Park is open 7 days a week and only closed 3 days a year - Thanksgiving, Christmas and new Year’s. In 2016 they had over 37,000 visitors.

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