Tybee Island Light Station

Our Story

Ordered by General James Oglethorpe, Governor of the 13th colony, in 1732, the Tybee Island Light Station has been guiding mariners safe entrance into the Savannah River for over 285 years. The Tybee Island Light Station is one of America's most intact light station having all of its historic support buildings on its three-acre site. Rebuilt several times the current Lighthouse displays its 1916 day mark with 178 steps and a First Order Fresnel Lens.

Under the direction of Noble Jones of Wormsloe Plantation, work began on the first day-mark (a lighthouse without a light) built on Tybee. It was constructed in 1736. It was octagonal in shape and was constructed of brickwork and cedar piles. Standing ninety feet tall, it was the tallest structure of its kind in America at that time. Unfortunately, storms took their toll on Tybee’s first day-mark. Five years after its completion, a new day-mark was commissioned. While work was progressing on a new day-mark, a storm swept the old day-mark away in August 1741.

In 1742, the second day-mark built on Tybee was completed. It was described by Oglethorpe as “much the best building of that kind in America.” It was different from its predecessor, standing ninety-four feet with a flagstaff which ran from the nave to the top of the beacon. By 1748, the sea was within thirty feet of the day-mark.​ Piles were driven into the sand to support the foundations. Unfortunately, that is when the sea started to encroach, reaching the very door of the day-mark. A new day-mark was needed and time was running out.

In 1768, with the sea lapping at the foundation of the day-mark, the Georgia Assembly authorized a new day-mark/lighthouse to be built. This time a site well removed from the sea was chosen and the building was completed in early 1773. The day-mark/lighthouse was ceded to the Federal Government from the colony of Georgia in 1790. The United States Lighthouse Establishment then took over the operation of the day-mark turning it into a lighthouse and in 1791, the 100 foot tall brick and wood structure was lit with spermaceti candles for the first time.

In 1861, the wooden stairs and the top 40 feet of the tower were destroyed during the Civil War when Confederate troops, retreating to Fort Pulaski, set fire to the tower in order to prevent the Union troops from using it to guide their ships into port.


After the Civil War, the Lighthouse Establishment began work on rebuilding the Tybee Light. The lower sixty feet of the old lighthouse was still intact, and it was decided to add to the existing structure instead anew. The lighthouse was now to be a first order station, consisting of masonry and metal only. It was completely fireproof. This is the lighthouse that stands today.

1st Tybee Light
A black and white illustration of the first Tybee Lighthouse

A black and white illustration of the first Tybee Lighthouse

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Oglethorpe.JPG
A drawing of General James Oglethorpe

A drawing of General James Oglethorpe

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Tiby tower 1764
A sepia illustration of the second Tybee Lighthouse1764

Illustration of the second Tybee Lighthouse1764

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Tybee Isl LH-first daymark with 1st asst keeper cottage that burned in 1884
Sepia image of the Tybee Isl LH-first daymark - all white. 1st asst keeper cottage to the right of t

Tybee Isl LH-first daymark with 1st asst keeper cottage that burned in 1884

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historic tybee station 1890s
Black and white image of the tybee light house with various outlying buildings around it

historic tybee station 1890s

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LH circa 1932 Lindquist
Sepia image of the Tybee Lighthouse with the 3 keeper's cottages surrounding it

LH circa 1932 Lindquist

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Construction of First Asst. Keeper's cottage
A sepia with lightkeeper standing in front of a house under construciton. Scaffolding engulfs the ho

Construction of First Asst. Keeper's cottage

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Lighthouse
A black and white image of the lighthouse and fuel storage building with military man posing in fron
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Ft Screven CMTC (1936)
Many tents fill the area in front of the Tybee Light Station in this sepia image

Ft Screven CMTC (1936)

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Seal_of_the_United_States_Lighthouse_Service.png
A black and white circular image of a lighthouse with an ocean around it. Birds fly near the lightho

US Light House Service Logo

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Headkeeper George Jackson (1933 - 1948)
A man wearing a cap smokes a pipe while looking off into the distance. He is wearing a light colored

Head Keeper George Jackson (1933 - 1948)

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Keepers JH Minges, James E Swan, Charles Armore (1905 - 1906).jpg
Three lighthouse keepers wearing hats sit on the front stairs of a keeper's cottage. The man on the

Keepers JH Minges, James E Swan, Charles Armore (1905 - 1906).jpg

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Headkeeper Frederick Henry Gatlieb Bruggerman (1914 - 1931).jpg
A man with a lighthouse service cap looks in the distance. He is wearing a dark colored jacket, ligh

Head Keeper Frederick Henry Gatlieb Bruggerman (1914 - 1931)

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Headkeeper John Simmons Evans (1900 - 1901).jpg
A man with is wearing a dark colored jacket, light colored shirt and a tie. He has dark colored hair

Head Keeper John Simmons Evans (1900 - 1901)

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Keeper Mrs Evans with sons Brodie and Coleman
On the left is a boy with dark hair and a light colored shirt holding his mother's arm. In the cente

Keeper Mrs Evans with sons Brodie and Coleman

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Painting the lighthouse
A sepia photo of Two men on a wooden scaffold paint the lighthouse.

Painting the lighthouse

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Tybee Island Museum

The museum is open daily (except Tuesdays) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The last tickets are sold at 4:30 p.m. and can be purchased at the Tybee Island Light Station.

The Tybee Island Museum is housed in a historic Endicott Period Battery, which was built as a part of Fort Screven during the Spanish-American War in 1899.​

Fort Screven was an important military post of the Spanish American War (1898). Most of its batteries were not completed in time for that war, and the Spanish never threatened an attack on Savannah and the fort never came under fire.


Fort Screven had seven batteries, six on Tybee Island and a seventh, Battery Hambright, near Fort Pulaski. Battery Garland now houses the Tybee Island Museum and is open to the public. The others can be seen from the street and beach, but are not publicly accessible.

Visit the museum to learn more about the the batteries and Fort Screven's history in World War I and World War II, as well as its effect on the community of Tybee Island.

2006-3-10a soldier on canon.jpg
Army soldier on cannon in sepia photo

Soldier on cannon

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14.jpg
Sepia photo of Army soldiers having drinks together
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2006-3-107 Ft Screven men moving shed with mule on tracks.jpg
2006-3-107 Ft Screven Black and White photo of men moving shed with mule on tracks.jpg

Fort Screven men moving shed with mule on tracks

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2006-3-17a carriage used to transport big guns (1910).jpg
Army soldiers stand near a big carriage that is used to transport big guns in this sepia photo

a carriage used to transport big guns (1910)

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2006-3-135a Fort Screven (1900s).jpg
Sepia photo of Army soldiers hauling projectiles on a wooden wagon pulled by two donkeys.

Fort Screven (1900s)

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01.jpg
Sepia photo of a group of Fort Screven soldiers in baseball uniforms with their arms around each oth
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Cpl Gus Cimorelli Circa WWII.jpg
Two Fort Screven soldiers stand in front of the lighthouse in this black and white photo

Cpl Gus Cimorelli Circa WWII

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Ft Screven CMTC (1936)
Ft Screven CMTC (1936)
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A man on scaffolding works on restoring the lighthouse

We Rely on Your Generosity

Your contribution will help the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum continue to provide the best possible service to the public. Your contribution will help with the continued preservation of the site and the education of our visitors.