Located 100 miles from the nearest urban center in one of Alabama’s poorest regions, Thomasville is shifting the narrative for a multi-county area within the Black Belt through collaboration, forward-thinking and steadfastly refusing to accept the status quo.
The town of Thomasville sits about 100 miles away from Mobile to the south, Montgomery to the east and Tuscaloosa to the north. Some might say this places the rural community in the middle of nowhere. Longtime Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day prefers to say that the city actually is “in the center of everything.”
Thomasville was founded in 1888 and incorporated on November 24 of that year.It has its roots in the nearby community of Choctaw Corner. Choctaw Corner, dating back to the antebellum period, was a settlement west of what would become Thomasville, but when merchants learned that a railroad was going to bypass their town to the east, they decided to move their stores to be near the railroad. First referred to as “Choctaw”, the town was named after railroad financier and former Union Civil War general, Samuel Thomas, after he donated $500 for the construction of Thomasville’s first school. By the end of the 19th century, the town expanded with numerous stores, several hotels, boarding houses, and a depot station. In 1899, what is now downtown was destroyed by a fire that burned several blocks of the wood frame buildings. Thomasville quickly rebuilt, this time in brick, and was once again flourishing by the start of World War I.
Over the next century, Thomasville continued to grow and expand. The railroad discontinued its use of the town’s depot by the 1950s, but also around this time the Thomasville’s FPS-35 radar base opened as a part of the Air Defense Command’s Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, bringing in servicemen and their families. The prototype for the FPS-35 radar was developed at the Thomasville Aircraft Control and Warning Station. The 1950s also saw the planting of roses along Highway 43, the main highway through Thomasville, earning it the nickname of The City of Roses. In the 1960s and 1970s numerous paper mills opened in the area, an industry that continues to be important to the economy of Thomasville today. The Thomasville Historic District was designated in 1999 by the National Register of Historic Places.
Thomasville is in the center of a vast regional trade area and draws 80,000 plus shoppers to its merchants from portions of 6 Alabama counties. That trade area has steadily grown to a point that the center of Thomasville on US highway 43 has the highest daily traffic count off interstate between Tuscaloosa and Mobile at nearly 20,000 vehicles per day.
Education has been a firm foundation from which Thomasville’s growth can easily be traced. Our excellent K-12 city school system and the presence of Alabama Southern Community College’s award winning campus in Thomasville assists every citizen young and old in achieving lifelong learning. Thomasville City Schools and Alabama Southern have partnered in providing Dual Enrollment to high school juniors and seniors to enable them to jump start their college education while in high school so they may be better equipped to face the world that awaits them at home and abroad.
Great talent has always been prevalent in Thomasville through singing, dancing, acting, painting, and just plain old story telling. Well, now all our talents can now be prominently cast and displayed in Thomasville’s new 30,000 sq. ft. Civic Center. Complete with a beautiful 500 seat theatre that will accommodate any New York Theatre production; an exquisite gallery to display art and antiques alike; along with meeting rooms complete with wireless internet access and projection capabilities no small town can match the versatility and range of uses of this great facility.
A new 60 acre medical park is planned in south Thomasville and will feature a new $30 million hospital along with other related services to bring healthcare to a new level in the Thomasville region. Put that together with a city owned nursing home; quality healthcare and rural Alabama are compatible in Thomasville now and in the future.
Recreation is available at every turn in the Thomasville Region. Great fishing on the Tombigbee and Alabama Rivers, a hunting paradise in any direction and a city recreation department that offers everything from baseball to soccer; basketball to football; there is always something to do in this rural village! Porch sittin’ is still allowed as well; you can tell all your friends and neighbors your stories of the week and listen to a few too!
Thomasville has a little to offer everyone if you just take time to look around. A little bit of suburbia and a little bit of culture; but most of all a good dose of old time small town the way it should be! As one of our famous home folks, writer and story teller Kathryn Tucker Windham said, “We aren’t New York City and don’t want to be–we are Thomasville and all the great things that go with being who we are.”
Top 10 Must Do
Kathryn Tucker Windham Museum
Thomasville Golf and Recreation Club
Ghost Walk and Fall Festival
A.L. Martin Museum
Christmas Parade & Downtown Stroll
Thomasville Civic Center
Thomasville City Park
138 Wilson Ave. Thomasville, AL 36784 | 334 636-1542