Fairhope Alabama, USA – 2016 International Finalist
Fairhope, Alabama, was settled in 1894 by a group of free-thinking individuals seeking an idyllic landscape in which to settle and foster their utopian ideas. According to the City’s historians, the new colony was proclaimed to have a “fair hope” of success. The name stuck and a community determined to live up to its moniker was born.
Devout followers of Henry George, the colonists developed Fairhope around the Single Tax philosophy of paying a single land tax. Newcomers to Fairhope would be leased land by the colony, which collected a tax (or “rent”) once a year. The taxation system still exists today under the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, and is one of Fairhope’s most unique features.
In 1908, the City of Fairhope was officially established by approximately 500 residents and by the 1930s the City had pledged to protect and preserve the beachfront park, the park lands on the bluff above the beach, Henry George Park, Knoll Park, and the quarter-mile long pier, all gifts of the Single Tax Colony.
More than a century later, over 18,000 residents now call Fairhope home. The City continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to experience its hospitable atmosphere, eclectic local culture, and breathtaking views of the sunset on Mobile Bay.
At the heart of the City is a vibrant downtown district that boasts locally owned specialty boutiques and shops; a variety of restaurants, many of which feature local ingredients from both land and sea; unconventional art galleries; privately owned inns; as well as several municipal buildings including the beloved Fairhope Public Library.
Located on what’s known as the “Eastern Shore” of Mobile Bay, Fairhope has long been considered a resort community and is an inspirational haven for artists, writers and craftsmen. The temperate climate lends itself well to a variety of outdoor attractions and events and provides a perfect environment for floral displays and green spaces to be enjoyed year-round.
Much more than just another small, southern town, Fairhope is a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement and local business patronage, and is a leader in recycling programs and green living. The city boasts a state-of-the-art water treatment system, has award-winning public schools, and a community of involved citizens.
Fairhope as its known today is due in no small part to the efforts set forth by former Mayor James P. Nix, elected in 1973 to his first of seven terms, who envisioned Fairhope as something akin to a quaint European village. With the help of various volunteer organizations and dedicated city employees, he set out to make it happen.
Mayor Tim Kant, elected in August 2000 after Nix’s retirement, has served the city since 1983, first as City Horticulturist and later as Public Works Superintendent. He has pledged to protect the City’s unspoiled beauty, preserve the high quality of life enjoyed by the community, and to carry on the dream that is Fairhope.