Dothan Opera House


October 2007

Eddie Leroy


  • This mural is dubbed “hidden mural” because it can only be seen when the building is open for performances.
  • The Dothan Opera House was originally and electric generating plant that distributed electricity to the surrounding area.
  • The Dothan Opera House was built between 1914 and 1915.
  • The artist, Wes Hardin, has painted over 50 murals in his lifetime.

In 1903, the Opera House stood as an electric generating plant next to the city jail building, but there was no space for a city hall. The city council decided to move the electric plant to a new building (the present-day Wiregrass Museum of Art) and constructed the Dothan Opera House, with a 580-seat auditorium on the first level, and City Hall on the top three levels, as well as housing the Library, Boy Scouts, Chamber of Commerce, utilities department, city treasurer, and other various offices.

The mural is painted on the stages’ fire curtain, and features the Dothan Mayor, Buck Baker, who orchestrated the Opera House’s beginnings, the Boy Scouts, Johnny Mack Brown, and the names of famous musicians and actors who appeared on this very stage. It is dubbed the ‘hidden mural’ because it can only be seen when the building is open for performances.

The background image depicts the opera house being built in 1914 - 1915. In the upper left corner of the mural you see the Dothan mayor who persuaded city leaders to build a town hall for public offices and public meetings. At the time city officials believed that the building would become a location for traveling vaudeville shows, dance companies and symphonies to put on performances for the community, and they were right.

At one time, the Boy Scouts of America had an office inside the building. You can see an image of a merit badge presentation at the bottom left of the mural. In the bottom right corner is an image of Johnny Mack Brown, who was born in Dothan on September 1, 1904, and went on to become an All-American halfback at the University of Alabama. In the 1926 Rose Bowl, he was named most valuable player and later on he went to Hollywood to pursue a film career.

In the upper right corner are Patti Rutland and Chris Christiano in “Lost in Yonkers,” a play by Larry Williams and presented by Southeast Alabama Community Theatre in the early 1990s. The edges of the mural are the names of the original members of the Friends of the Opera House.