Ever since 1736 the Tybee Island Lighthouse has been helping ship navigation into the Savannah River. The lighthouse is on the Northeast side of Tybee Island, in the state of Georgia. This light is from the colonial era. This makes it only 1 of 7 lighthouses that still remains from this time period.
Noble Jones of Wormsloe Plantation was in charge of building the first tower. This octagonal tower was complete in 1736, out of brick and cedar. It was 90 feet tall, and at that time, that made it the tallest building of its type in America. However, this was only a tower, it was not designed to have a light on the top. This first tower did not last long due to storms. Just 5 years later, in August 1741 a storm destroyed the first tower, but a new tower was already commissioned.
In 1742 the new tower was finished. This time it was 94 feet tall. Within 6 years the eroding sea was threatening the tower. Piles were placed to help support the foundation, but the sea kept coming in. The ocean had made its way to the foundation, so again in 1768 a new lighthouse was commissioned.
This third tower was finished in 1773. The tower measured 100 feet tall, and it was constructed out of brick and wood. In 1791, after the United States Lighthouse Establishment took over it, a light was added, and it was lit for the first time.
In 1861, during the Civil War, the lighthouse suffered damage from Confederate soldiers. As Confederate soldiers retreated, they burned the stairs and the top 40 feet of the lighthouse. They did not want Union soldiers to use the lighthouse to help guide their ships into port.
After the Civil War ended, the Tybee Island lighthouse was repaired by the Lighthouse Establishment. Since it was only the top 40 feet that was damaged, it was determined to just fix the existing tower instead of building a brand new lighthouse. However, now the lighthouse would be a first order station. It was fireproofed by making it out of metal and masonry. This is the lighthouse that is standing on Tybee Island today.
Tybee Island Lighthouse has a long and deep history. All of the lighthouses’ buildings are still standing. This makes it one of America’s most intact light stations. This lighthouse proudly stands today showing its black and white banded day-mark.