Inside a domed, concrete barrel of a hut, the August temps drop by 10 degrees. Ancient tomes rest on a dusty bookshelf and a vintage writing desk perches next to a window.
Told he had just months to live, Henry Stuart left Idaho and built this tiny dwelling in the woods outside of Fairhope, Alabama, in 1926. (Today, it’s surrounded by a business park.) The snowy-bearded “Hermit of Tolstoy Park,” went on to live another 18 years, becoming a beloved and perpetually barefooted fixture of the community.
It’s telling that even the hermits here are friendly. Perhaps it’s more telling that Stuart is far from the most colorful character to call Fairhope home.
Founded on utopian ideals that have drawn artists, nudists, writers, bohemians and free thinkers of all stripes for more than 125 years, this small bay town today offers quirky beachside respite and plenty of outdoor activities to fill a weekend away from New Orleans.