Fayette is the seat of Fayette County and was originally named LaFayette in honor of Revolutionary War hero Marquis de LaFayette. It is located in the northwest-central section of the state. Fayette is the birthplace of Alabama folk artist Jimmy Lee Sudduth.
The area that would become Fayette was first settled in the early nineteenth century and comprised the area that is the present-day Old Town section of the city. Originally known as La Fayette, the town's name was officially changed to Fayette Court House and incorporated as a town on January 15, 1821; it was designated as the county seat at this time. One of the earliest houses in the town was built by John C. Moore, a probate judge, and still stands today on Elyton Road. The Richmond and Danville Extension Company built a line connecting Fayette to the rest of the rail lines of the Georgia Pacific Railroad in the year 1890.
Throughout its early history and into the twentieth century, Fayette's economy centered on agriculture and shipping of goods. As with many former agricultural centers in the state, Fayette shifted and diversified its economy in the mid-twentieth century to include manufacturing of such goods as clothing, hardwood flooring, and truckbeds, and timber farming.
Fayette’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 4,619. Of that number, 73.4 percent identified themselves as white, 24.3 percent as African American, 1.4 percent as Hispanic, 1.2 percent as two or more races, 0.3 percent as Asian, and 0.3 percent as Native American. The city's median household income was $31,705, and per capita income was $16,602.
The workforce in present-day Fayette is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Manufacturing (27.2 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (19.9 percent)
· Retail trade (13.0 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (9.4 percent)
· Public administration (5.4 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.9 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (4.8 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (4.4 percent)
· Wholesale trade (4.1 percent)
· Construction (2.9 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.9 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (1.7 percent)
Schools in Fayette are part of the Fayette County Public School System. The city has one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school as well as one K-12 school serving nearly 2,000 students and employing approximately 125 teachers. Bevill State, a two-year higher-education institution, maintains a campus in Fayette.
Fayette lies at the junction of U.S. Highway 43, which runs north and east from the town, State Highway 171, which runs south from the town, and State Highway 18, which runs east-west. CSX operates a rail line through the town as well. The city of Fayette operates Richard Arthur Field Airport, which serves general aviation, as does the privately owned Charlie Wilkes Airport.
Events and Places of Interest
The Fayette Art Museum & Civic Center features gallery, large event, and performance spaces. The facility contains more than 3,500 pieces of art, many of which were created by local folk artists such as Fayette natives Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Reverend Benjamin Perkins, and Sybil Gibson. Every August, the museum hosts an annual arts festival. Guthrie Smith Park, a 100-acre facility, offers visitors athletic fields, picnic areas, walking trails, and a 10-acre lake.
Claire M. Wilson
Published September 3, 2010
Last updated July 13, 2012