Fairhope is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, on a sloping plateau, along the cliffs and shoreline of Mobile Bay. The 2000 census lists the population of the city as 12,480. Fairhope is a principal city of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area, which includes all of Baldwin County.
Fairhope is located at 30°31’35.018″ North, 87°53’44.473″ West (30.526394, -87.895687). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.0 square miles (28.5 km2), all of which is land. Its elevation is 122 feet (37 m).
Fairhope was founded in November, 1894 on the site of former Alabama City as a utopian 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. 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.”
In forming their demonstration project, 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.
In 1907 educator Marietta Johnson founded the School for Organic Education in Fairhope. The school was praised in John Dewey‘s influential 1915 book Schools of Tomorrow. Dewey and Johnson were founding members of the Progressive Education Association.
The Fairhope Single-Tax Corporation still operates, with 1,800 leaseholds covering more than 4,000 acres (16 km2) in and around the current city of Fairhope. Despite the ideals of the corporation, the town has transitioned from utopian experiment to artist’s and intellectual’s colony to boutique resort and affluent suburb of Mobile.
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.
A nearby attraction known as the Weeks Bay Nature Reserve is known for the many oaks, wildlife and pitcher plants along the elevated walkways through the swamp forest.
Fairhope is governed by a Mayor and five person city council. The mayor serves as the full time city executive while council members serve part time.
Mayor: Tim Kant
- Debbie Quinn
- Lonnie L. Mixon
- Rick Kingrea
- Dan Stankoski
- Mike Ford
Local and national real estate developers have built commercial facilities in the downtown area that are larger than have been historically allowed.
In July, 2007, Wal-Mart opened a store just beyond the city limits. Plans to build a store within the city limits were protested by residents seeking to protect Fairhope’s small town image. The new store employs 400 people, 350 of whom are from Fairhope.
Fairhope’s building and zoning ordinances overlap with those of Baldwin County. Residents of the city want more control of construction projects near, but still outside the city limits, while residents outside the city limits want less city control of their property.
Fairhope has a humid subtropical climate. It experiences hot, humid summers and generally mild winters, with average high temperatures ranging from 90°F (31.7 C) in the summer to 59°F (15 C) high during winter.
|59 (15)||63 (17)||70 (21)||77 (26)||83 (28)||89 (32)||90 (32)||89 (32)||87 (30)||79 (27)||70 (21)||62 (17)||76.4 (24.6)|
|41 (5)||49 (9)||56 (13)||63 (17)||70 (21)||72 (22)||72 (22)||68 (20)||56 (13)||49 (9)||42 (5)||56.3 (13.5)|
|Average rainfall: inches/mm||5 /
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,480 people, 5,345 households, and 3,575 families residing in the city. Its population density was 1,135.1 per square mile (438.3 /km2). There were 6,000 housing units at an average density of 545.7 per square mile (210.7 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.22% White, 7.79% Black, 0.20% Native American, 0.62% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. 1.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 5,345 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.8% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.83.
21.6% of the population was under the age of 18, 5.4% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 25.6% from 45 to 64, and 23.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 83.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.3 males. The median income for a household in the city was $42,913, and the median income for a family was $56,976. Males had a median income of $41,692 versus $27,959 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,237. About 4.9% of families and 7.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.
- Fairhope High School (9-12), 1,142 students, Principal Beverly Thomas. Fairhope High School is located in the southern most part of Fairhope. It is estimated that 39% of the city of Fairhope’s high school age students attend Daphne High School that is north of Fairhope.
- Fairhope Middle School (6-8), 642 students, Principal Deadra Powe.
- J. Larry Newton School (K-8), 731 students, Principal Suellen Brazil.( In Barnwell, AL )
- Fairhope Intermediate School (4-5), 397 students, Principal Gartrell Austin Agee.
- Fairhope Elementary School (2-3), 278 students, Principal Terry E. Beasley.
- Fairhope K-1 Center (K-1), 459 students, Principal Pat Carlton.
Other schools in Fairhope include:
- Baldwin County Alternative School (6-12)
- The Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education continues to operate as a private school for with approximately 51 students as of July 2007. The school offers education to life groups that traditionally span 1st through 8th grades.
- Faulkner State Community College has a campus in Fairhope that provides adult education, undergraduate courses, non-credit and community service programs.
- The University of South Alabama has a branch campus in Fairhope providing graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses in education, counseling, nursing and business alongside non-credit and community service programs.
 Notable residents
- Bob Baumhower, football player (University of Alabama & Miami Dolphins)
- Rick Bragg, author and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist
- Anna Braune, children’s book author and illustrator
- Gregory Brown, guitarist and songwriter.
- Jimmy Buffett, singer and songwriter
- Marshall Chapman, songwriter and musician
- Dave Edwards, musician
- Fannie Flagg, author and actress
- Ernest B. Gaston, founder of Fairhope
- Winston Groom, author (Forrest Gump)
- Marie Howland, utopian and journalist
- Marietta Johnson, educator and reformer
- Watt Key, author of Alabama Moon
- Leon Lett, football player (Dallas Cowboys)
- Judith Richards, author
- Upton Sinclair (winter visitor), author (The Jungle)
- Dave Stapleton, former professional baseball player for the Boston Red Sox
- Bill Varney – Academy Award winning film sound editor (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back)