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Fairhope, Alabama was established as an experimental colony [photographs]

(Picturesque city of Fairhope, Alabama has a unique story about how it was established)


Fairhope, Baldwin County, was established in 1894 on the site of former Alabama City as a single-tax colony by the Fairhope Industrial Association, a group of 28 followers of economist Henry George who had incorporated earlier that year in Des Moines, Iowa.

Fairhope is a pretty town with flowers on every corner-photographer Carol Highsmith 2010

fairhope flowers by Carol Highsmith

It was to be a model community based on what Ernest Berry Gaston, a young Iowa journalist and Populist Party officer, called “cooperative individualism,” a term he introduced to the lexicon of American reform.

United Methodist Church built in 1949-50, Fairhope, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith May 2010

United Methodist Church built in 1949-50, Fairhope, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith May 2010

Their corporate constitution explained their purpose in founding a new colony.

to establish and conduct a model community or colony, free from all forms of private monopoly, and to secure to its members therein equality of opportunity, the full reward of individual efforts, and the benefits of co-operation in matters of general concern”

Fountain in Fairhope, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith 2010Fountain in Fairhope, Alabama

They pooled their funds to purchase land at “Stapleton’s pasture” on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and then divided it into a number of long-term leaseholds. The corporation paid all governmental taxes from rents paid by the lessees, thus simulating a single-tax. The purpose of the single-tax colony was to eliminate disincentives for productive use of land and thereby retain the value of land for the community.

Downtown Fairhope

Fairhope downtown-fairhope

Fairhope Avenue” was one of the properties on the 1910 version of the board game The Landlord’s Game, a precursor of Monopoly.

Downtown Fairhope 1946 (Alabama State Archives)

Fairhope downtown-1946 fairhope

Fairhope – oldest business PineQuat Shop since 1899 taken ca. 1920The_Pinequat_Shop_in_Fairhope_Alabama

Dedication of Fairhope high school ca. 1920size (10)

Colonial Inn in Fairhope ca. 1900size (9)

“Early history of the colony was fraught with disappointment and decisions that would eventually make fulfillment of its goals impossible. Unable to raise sufficient funds from national single taxers or other reformers, the colonists could not purchase enough contiguous land for their model community. Unable to attract enough members to live and work on the lands they did have, they were forced to open their settlement to nonmembers, many of whom opposed the founding principles.

Fairhope Courier Staff and Printing Press ca. 1939

Staff_and_printing_press_of_the_Fairhope_Courier_the_major_newspaper_of_Fairhope_Alabama

Their complaints about rent charges, among other things, led to the incorporation of the Town of Fairhope in 1908. The new town encompassed both colony and deeded land along with two different forms of government and revenue collection.”

Vista View of Wharf, Fairhope, Alabama ca. 1900

Vista View of Wharf, Fairhope, Ala

Swimmers diving off a pier in Fairhope, Alabama ca. 1920Swimmers_diving_off_a_pier_in_Fairhope_Alabama

The Fairhope Single-Tax Corporation still operates, with 1,800 leaseholds covering more than 4,000 acres in and around the current city of Fairhope. Despite the ideals of the corporation, the town has transitioned from utopian experiment to artists’ and intellectuals’ colony to boutique resort and affluent suburb of Mobile.

Cottages along the shore line Fairhope, Alabama ca. 1930

Cottages_along_the_shoreline_at_Gulf_State_Park_in_Fairhope_Alabama

For over 50 years, fishermen and residents of Fairhope have experienced the “jubilee” phenomenon. During a jubilee along the shores of Mobile Bay, some aquatic animals, including blue crabs, flounder, stingrays, and eels, come to the shallow water. At those times, it is possible to catch the fish, crabs, and other sea life near the water’s edge.

Jubilee – Fairhope, Alabama – crabs, flounders on shore

Jubilee-Mobile-Bay-Alabama-crabs-flounders

SOURCES

  1. Encyclopedia of Alabama
  2. Wikipedia

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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45 comments

  1. Lucy Jackson

    a beautiful little town

  2. Alabama Pioneers

    Notable people from Fairhope Jimmy Buffet, Winston Groom (Forrest Gump author), Fannie Flag, and Upton Sinclair

    1. And W. E. Butterfield (aka W. E. B. Griffin)

      1. This should be W.E. Butterworth instead of Butterfield. His children attended the Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education with me in the 70’s. This is the oldest progressive school in the nation and was established in 1907 in the utopian Fairhope. The school is still in Fairhope today.

    2. On the subject of famous Fairhopians — Upton Sinclair, like many progressives of the early 20th Century passed through Fairhope but was not “from” the town in any way. Other famous visitors were radical attorney Clarence Darrow and John Dewey, the Columbia University professor sometimes called the father of modern education (and sent his son to the Organic School for a time). This otherwise interesting piece unaccountably overlooks one of Fairhope’s most outstanding sons, historian Paul Gaston. Grandson of the founding family and a chronicler of Fairhope in several books, Dr. Gaston is widely known and influential scholar of the American South. He has taught at the University of Virginia for decades. Dr. Gaston has also been a courageous supporter of civil rights, speaking out and working for integration when it was a very dangerous thing to do in the South. His books “Coming of Age in Utopia,” 2010 (memoir), “Man and Mission: E.B. Gaston and Origins of the Fairhope Single Tax Colony,” 1993 (biography of his grandfather), and “Women of Fair Hope,” 1984 (study of leading women in early Fairhope) provide a comprehensive view of the Single Tax colonists and the evolution of the town. And are all wonderful reading.

  3. Please correct Fairhope “Couries” to “Courier.”

  4. Charles W. Tucker

    Jessie Patterson Cmichael Arnold dont know if yall have seen this article.

  5. Cassandra Nancy Kenfield-Lea

    I’ve always loved Fairhope. We often visited cousins there and I learned to swim underwater at that beach.

  6. Dean Atkinson

    I love Fairhope it is a beautiful little city.

  7. Cmichael Arnold

    Thanks chase. Good article. love FAIRHOPE and the FSTC.

  8. Debbie Johnston

    BrittanyHogan Johnathan Hogan

  9. Rwandall West

    This is where Randall West jr lives and is very picturesque

  10. Stacy Calloway McNair

    It’s 15 minutes from my house 🙂

  11. Stacy Calloway McNair

    I haven’t run into her yet. It’s crazy how small the world really is. I had forgotten that Teresita Capuli has been there before too.

  12. Joy Cobb

    Beautiful little town .

  13. Patti Meg

    A Fair Hope of success. I love visiting this little town.

  14. Karen Hester Giordano

    It is very beautiful Carina Bythelake…It is a small world, some people relocated here to work at UTC Aerospace (formerly Rohr Industries Chula Vista Ca).

  15. Sommer Atchley

    Fortunate enough to live 15 /20 minutes from here.. I work in Fairhope.. Such a beautiful little city❤️

  16. I lived in Fairhope almost 12 years and loved every second. My visiting friends said it was a Norman Rockwell town and the Garden Spot of the World. Great friends, great food. A Wonderful Place To Live.

  17. I had the chance to live in Montrose, it’s a beautiful hidden treasure, Fairhope is the perfect little town, I also enjoyed Mobile

  18. I wish there was more on the founding fathers of Fairhope of whom my great grandfather was one- Olaf Tuveson and what their inspiration was in finding and locating on the Eastern Shore other that taxes. There were so many unique minds and great interests.

  19. You missed mentioning the Walk In Theatre on the beach adjacent to the Fairhope Pier. It was open air and sold mosquito repellent along with popcorn.

    1. That theater was built and operated by R. E. Tuveson whose son, Paul Tuveson and wife Julie now own Tuveson’s Architectual in Fairhope. R.E. was the son of Paul T. Tuveson and grandson of Olaf Tuveson, one of the original families to settle in Fairhope.

  20. Does anyone know if The Emperor Clock Company still exist in Fairhope? I have one of their Grandfather Clocks and I am in need of a part.

  21. I love dis town

  22. I love this place so so much

  23. I LOVE MINI FAIRHOPE

  24. this place is home sweet home

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