(FAIRHOPE, Ala.) - Fairhope! Known for it's beautiful streets, eclectic shopping, rich history and its lawn mowers . Lawn mowers?
The Janson family of Fairhope manufactured the Cut-Rite lawn mower for more than a decade, and you can see a hanging collection of them above the entrance to the Fairhope Museum of History on Section Street.
Walk through the doors, and you will not only learn more about the Fairhope you already know, but a lot more about the coastal town that you didn't know. And there are plenty of surprises, says museum director Donnie Barrett.
"We don't just collect antiques," he said, "we collect items that help tell the Fairhope story. And that's a simple mission statement, and that's what we stick to now, and that's why all of this stuff helps tell that Fairhope story."
To begin with, the museum building is, itself, a key piece of Fairhope history.
The old section of the museum was built in 1928.
It was actually a city building in Fairhope where the council held its meetings.
And it was also the jail.
Believe it or not, the jail cell was used until 2000 by the police department.
"This is the old City Hall," said Barrett. "It was built in 1928 as Fairhope's first municipal building, and it was in 2006, after about 6 years of preparation, they started building the new modern museum that it is today."
And today's modern museum doesn't neglect the city's unique past as a single tax colony.
"Every tourist walks through here and they walk in this place and they say, now what is that tax free thing you have in here?" Barnett said, with obvious mischief. "What is that tax free thing?"
You'll find out almost as soon as you walk in the door.
You'll also see Fairhope as a vital coastal link on Mobile Bay in the 20th century.
There are even connections to the area's inhabitants prior to the settling of the city.
On this day, we found children taking part in a summer program that shows them how to reconstruct a piece of history using broken pots.
And to keep it all fresh, Barrett and staff have a second floor changing exhibit gallery, currently focusing on Fairhope's place in America's involvement in WWII.
No matter what the exhibit, the focus here will be on Fairhope, because this town has a story to tell.
And here is where you'll walk through its pages.
"And they walk here, and they just swing their arms around and say, boy, you've got a great place here!" Barnett exclaimed. "And they walk out and the next people come in and say, boy, you've got a great place here! The next person walks out and says, boy, you've got a great place here!"
The Fairhope Museum of History is at 24 North Section street, and open Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.