A City Of Significance is Fairhope AL
Fairhope is a town located in Baldwin County, Alabama. The town sits on a plateau that slopes along the shoreline and the cliffs of Mobile Bay.
Fairhope AL, An Idea
Fairhope was an idea for a long time before it actually became a place that people would one-day call home. In fact, the ‘thinkers’ or intellectuals who planned this location were actually from Iowa. The leader of the group was Ernest Berry Gordon. This group also included James Bellangee and S.S. Mann.
These three men, along with several others, had grown frustrated with the state of the country at the time. Poverty, individualism, class conflict and industrialism were all present and running rampant in the United States. Gaston was determined to create a utopian colony somewhere in Louisiana. Unfortunately, this colony was never materialized and after drifting between parties, these Iowans refocused their excitement in creating this colony.
Henry George, an author, was influential in these men’s request in recreating the country one colony at a time. In his book, Progress and Poverty, George explained how economic and social ills could be eradicated by strong fiscal reform. He was also a proponent of ‘Single Tax’, and these are the ideals that the Iowans held onto and used to build their community.
Mann and Bellangee began searching for land around Western Tennessee and Southwest Louisiana, but both favored the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. This area had long been known as a resort area for wealthy Mobilians ever since 1847. In fact, there were summer homes and cottages at Daphne and Point Clear.
The site that was eventually recommended by the gentlemen was between Daphne and Battles Wharf. They chose this location because of the affordable land, natural beauty of the area and the climate. After a vote on October 1, 1894, Baldwin County was chosen by the Fairhope Single-Taxers as the location for their community.
The next month, 28 men, women and children made their way from Iowa to the Eastern Shore. Although the first land purchase was only 135 acres, by 1910 the group owned over 4000 acres.
Advantages Of Site
The location of the town had several advantages. One, the land did not have a lot of farming value, but it was prime with pine trees. The bay was also very shallow, and this made transportation by water difficult.
However, the colonists used these practical difficulties to make decisions regarding the beachfront and the bluffs. They set the bluffs and waterfront aside to be used as parkland. Soon after, they began to draw up plans for lots and streets.
Having access to the water was also important so a road was created to the bluff all the way to the beach. Fairhope Avenue was the first street created, and soon after Magnolia Avenue was formed. The streets run parallel to the east of the bluffs.
Despite its difficult beginnings, Fairhope has always prided itself on its aesthetic look. The town has always been a magnet for seasonal visitors, and quickly became the blueprint for other Single-Tax experiments around the country.