Fairhope landscape design. Photo by Jonathon Boyd of Holy Cross
The town of Fairhope is nestled on Baldwin County’s scenic western shore of Mobile Bay, just inland from the Alabama Gulf Coast. Here we have a unique waterfront environment in a peninsula that extends into the eastern portion of Mobile Bay. It is a favorite residential and vacation destination that is full of natural beauty.
In spite of the fact that our lovely waterfront community of Fairhope is known for its pristine natural setting, many of our modern-day landscape designs have heavily altered this natural landscape. These changes have been made to accommodate various construction needs such as roadways, stormwater drainage, parking lots, open space, power lines, and parks.
While the bulk of modern landscape designs of Fairhope was constructed in the mid- to late-20th century, some of the major alterations to Fairhope’s natural landscape began much earlier. Below, a few of these historic changes are listed.
The first industrial landscape design of Fairhope was done by a German immigrant.
The Fairhope Industrial Landscape
German immigrant Gustav Rapp opened Fairhope’s first commercial business, A. Rapp and Co., in the waterfront area of what is now Pearl Street and Bancroft Avenue. His first landscape design comprised a great deal of commercial development along Mobile Bay, including shipbuilding, shell manufacturing, and brick making. The brick kilns had been in use in Fairhope as early as 1832, although the production of bricks ceased by the mid-19th century.
The first planned residential landscape of Fairhope was designed by Edgar Stewart Moore. It was built at the intersection of Pearl and Bancroft, about 1,000 feet from the waterfront. This house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Edgar Stewart Moore
The City of Fairhope constructed a beautiful combination of park and open space on the west side of the present-day Old Town. The nucleus of this combination was the 19th Century Anderson Park. The park’s earliest design was done by Lewis Carroll Davidson in 1887, although he later died and was replaced by Henry S. Barton. The combination of the naturalistic landscape, extensive woodlands, and sheltering palms all make for a magical setting.
Henry S. Barton
Fletcher Harris was commissioned to do the landscape design for the Fairhope Female Seminary. The grounds of the school consisted of a six-acre formal flower garden, complete with fountains, surrounded by a wall of woods. The following quote from the original catalog description illustrates the difference in landscape design at this time, compared to the 1920s: “If the artistic and natural effect of Fairhope Female Seminary could be perfectly expressed, it would be in the course of nature—the flowers would have never blossomed, but the air and the birds would have been all the lovelier and more beautiful for their being naturally perfumed.”
The earliest approved plan of the present-day Arbor Park was designed by Charles Screven. It was approved by the Fairhope city council in December 1899. Arbor Park was originally called, “Fairhope River Park,” and later named, “Fairhope River Park.” In 1921, the park was expanded to 26 acres. Arbor Park features the “Oval Garden,” complete with four ponds. The “Oval Garden” is of historical significance, because in 1943, the U.S. War Department purchased Arbor Park for use as a bomb shelter. During the 1960s, as the Osprey Nuclear-Power Plant was built in the area, Arbor Park was again used as a bomb shelter. It is ironic that our planned residential landscape was used as a bomb shelter during the Cold War.
Our first landscaping plan to incorporate small lakes and ponds for recreational purposes was designed by Fred K. Knapp. This plan was approved by the city of Fairhope in 1911. These lakes and ponds were incorporated into the design of Parkside Place and Arcadia Place, with Knapp also doing the landscaping for Parkside Place.
The Fairhope Heights neighborhood on the west side of Fairhope was designed by George Gray. Gray also did the landscaping for Parkside Place and Arcadia Place. A similar neighborhood on the east side of Fairhope was designed by Joseph Austin Clark, who later founded his own landscape design firm in Kansas City.
Waterstreet, Fairhope’s first commercial shopping district, was designed by Lewis Carroll Davidson. The central square design was proposed by Davidson, but after it was constructed, he did not live to see it. A pioneer in the automobile industry, Davidson was always eager to see progress. He initially supported the downtown business district as a way to bring economic development to the area.
Edgar Stewart Moore
The first residential landscape design of Fairhope Beach was designed by Edgar Stewart Moore. He drew up plans for two rows of homes built on a bluff overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Before this design was even approved by the city of Fairhope, it was already being built by a local builder. This design served as a prototype for the later, more ambitious set of designs for Fairhope Beach.
Edgar Stewart Moore
Located at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, Fairhope’s waterfront is the most scenic portion of the entire city. Situated on a peninsula, the only access to this section of the city is a two-lane road that snakes through a series of beautiful homes and landscaping. The original Fairhope residential landscape design was accomplished by Edgar Stewart Moore and Grace Sizemore. Moore and Sizemore were the founders of the landscape architecture firm Moore and Sizemore. Moore’s residential designs for Fairhope Beach are used as