This Developer Is Renovating A Former WW2 Prisoner Of War Camp In Alabama

German POWs in the U.S.
German POWs in the U.S.

A few years ago, Eddie Donaldson, owner of K.C. Construction, purchased a building complex on Headland Avenue in Dothan, Alabama.  He began working to renovate them to make them the headquarters for his business.

As he worked on the structures, he learned more about the history of the site.  Most recently, it had been a flea market.  In the 1930s it was a Civilian Conservation Corps facility.  In the 1940s it was a POW camp for German soldiers in World War II.

Donaldson has lived in Dothan for 50 years, and he had never known there was so much history there.

With this additional information about the site, Donaldson decided to expand his renovation operations.  He is now renovating the 46,000-square-foot main building along with several adjacent buildings to be an office and commercial development called Windmill Station.  In the process, he is striving to retain as much of the original look and feel of the buildings as possible.

Most of the work will be finished in March, but one merchant has already opened a shop there. Laura Whiddon opened Grace and Charm, a children’s clothing and accessories store.  She liked the old-fashioned look of the building and the opportunity to help the economy of east Dothan.

Donaldson’s daughter, Jennifer, has opened East River Trading Company at the site.

Donaldson has worked to retain as much of the original materials as possible as he works to renovate the complex. He has supplemented those materials with material recycled from other buildings.  Using repurposed material has allowed him to reduce the environmental impact by keeping material from other projects out of the landfill.

The entire facility needed extensive work on the roof, and Donaldson has insulated all of the buildings.  He says it would have been easier to build a new complex from scratch, but he is passionate about preserving as much of the existing structures as possible.

Since beginning the project, he has spent a lot of time talking with residents and historians about the significance of the complex.  He was able to read some correspondence from Germans who had been interned in the complex during WWII.  It surprised him to see how well they spoke of their experience in Dothan.  Some of the Germans moved back to Dothan with their families after the war, Dothan Eagle reported.

Donaldson plans to begin populating the complex with businesses next year.  There is space for stores, a restaurant, offices and entertainment and event venues.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE