The Founding of Fairhope

The Founding of Fairhope


The City of Fairhope began as a Single-Tax Colony, an economic experimental community for a group of populist reformers in the late 1800s. They were seeking their own special Utopia.  Although over a hundred similar utopian colonies had failed, including one of their own in Louisiana, the founders were undeterred. 


They borrowed from Henry George’s Single Tax philosophy to try to demonstrate how to solve some of the economic and social problems of the day.  After searching several  locations across the United States for possible sites, they chose the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. The original 28 people met on the Bluff at Fairhope on November 15, 1894 to declare "Round-Up Day” - the founding of their Single Tax Colony.  The founders settled on the high bluff where they bought clear-cut wasteland for $5.50 per acre.  


They thought using their Single Tax plan, a simple solution for land taxation, would give them at least a "fair hope" of success.  Thus, the Fairhope Single Tax Colony was founded, attracting supporters and financial backers from around the country and drawing an eclectic assemblage of industrious, artistic and free-thinking people to Fairhope, Alabama.


In 1904, the City of Fairhope took over responsibility for all municipal services. By 1908, the Colony had around 500 residents.  In the 1930s, the city became the caretaker of Fairhope's greatest assets. That included the beachfront park, lands on the bluff above the beach, Henry George Park, Knoll Park, and the quarter-mile long pier, all gifted by the Single Tax Colony. They are the centerpieces of the city to this day.


While the city was founded by mostly midwestern farmer families, the land on the Eastern Shore was unfamiliar to their experience and crops.  They soon found that pottery, arts and local-made crafts drew more income.  Early visitors came in summer by bay boat from Mobile to see these dreamers and vacation in the small bay cottages and hotels along the bluff top. Vacationers came in the early days for many of the same reasons they do today: the pleasant climate, peaceful surroundings and inspiring scenery.


Over the years, artists, writers, and craftsmen have found Fairhope to be an inspiring haven for their work and have helped to make the community what it is today.