Fairhope’s founding father was E.B. Gaston, an Iowa populist newspaper editor

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An experimental community intended to address the ills of income disparity during the Gilded Age, Fairhope, Alabama was founded by mid-westerners in 1894 on the shores of Mobile Bay. It attracted artists, eccentrics, and reformers including Marietta Johnson, who along with Maria Montessori, was a pioneer of non-traditional education.

The community’s founding organization and the school are both still there. But as the town has evolved into a nationally known resort and retirement community, it has struggled to reconcile its present with its past.



The colony’s ideals were at odds with Southern attitudes about race






Among a community of free thinkers was dancer Winifred Duncan, once arrested for nude canoeing in the bay





Produced for the University of Alabama Center for Public Television