October, 2011 – Fairhope, Alabama – A Little History

Posted on November 18, 2011

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So…what’s so great about Fairhope?

For one thing, it has an interesting history, and we are absolutely nuts about history!

The community was established in 1894 by a group from Des Mines, Iowa, headed by Ernest B. Gaston, who wanted to establish a colony based on the then-popular single tax therories of economist, journalist and social reformer Henry George.

Gaston and his followers looked at land throughout the South and Midwest before settling on property on a high bluff overlooking Mobile Bay.  After one resident voiced the opinion that the colony had a “fair hope” of success, “Fairhope” was adopted as its name.

While they were not able to create a true single tax community as defined by George, they attempted to come as close as they could.  They acquired land in the name of the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, then offered 99 year renewable leases to those who wanted to use or live on a portion of the land. Improvements to the land – such as a home or business – belonged solely to the lessee, and not be subject to taxation.

Today, it is one of only two single tax corporations remaining in the United States – the other being Arden, Delaware.

Over time the colony has had to adapt to outside influences and regulations. Lease payments now include an amount for state, county and local taxes, an administration fee to operate their headquarters office, and a “demonstration fee” intended to be used to show the usefulness of the single tax concept.

Funds from the demonstration fee are used to enhance the community by supporting such things as the public parks, the public library, the historical museum and the art center.

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.

And this spirit is very much alive today in today’s residents, most notably in their interest in the creative arts and their acceptance of a wide variety of lifestyles and religious preferences.

This outlook encourages both diversity and a real appreciation of beauty, both natural and man-made, making Fairhope a haven for artists and writers. 

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Posted in: Travel - Alabama