Fairhope began as a dream in the minds of a group of individuals who were seeking their own special utopia. The first Single-Tax colonists (so called because of their belief in the economic theories of Henry George, who advocated no taxes other than a single land tax), looked at land throughout the South and Midwest before settling in 1894 on a high bluff overlooking Mobile Bay. According to legend, one of the group said the new colony had a fair hope of success, and the community of Fairhope was born. Based on a spirit of cooperative individualism, the Single Tax Colony attracted supporters and financial backers from around the country, drawing an eclectic assemblage of industrious, creative, and free-thinking people to Fairhope.
The city of Fairhope was established with around 500 residents in 1908, taking over responsibility for all municipal services. In the 1930s, the city became the caretaker of Fairhope's greatest assets, 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, which continues to have an active presence in the city to this day.
Fairhope has always been a resort community, early visitors came by Bayboat from Mobile to vacation in the small bay cottages and hotels along the bluff top. Vacationers came to Fairhope in the early days for many of the same reasons they do today: its 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.
However, by the 1970s, despite its attractive bayfront, Fairhope was faced with problems common to other small towns. The downtown was dying, and it took another big dream to save it.
Mayor James P. Nix, elected in 1973 to his first of seven terms, 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.
Today, Fairhope is a breathtaking vision that draws visitors from around the world who come to enjoy its natural beauty and its vibrant downtown filled with unique shops and galleries, gourmet restaurants, cozy cafes and more. A growing community of over 16,000 residents, Fairhope is also much more than just one of the prettiest small towns in the South. The city leads the way for others with active recycling programs, a state-of-the art water treatment system, involved citizens (over 70 percent report doing some type of volunteer work), and a new Comprehensive Plan that seeks to maintain the city's high quality of life through controlled growth and development.
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 so enjoyed by its 16,000 plus residents, and to carry on the dream that is Fairhope.