Tybee Island Historical Society raising money for lighthouse restoration

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 9:36 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - The Tybee Island lighthouse has been a staple on the island for centuries once leading war vessels into Fort Pulaski and more recently, vessels into the Savannah Ports.

After their routine evaluation this past winter, the lighthouse is in need of an estimated $1.6 million restoration.

Tybee Island lighthouse is not a stranger to restoration. It undergoes a $500,000 upgrade every few years to keep up with its maintenance. But, unexpected water damage has driven up the price tag and the urgency to get it done.

A beacon in the night, and a destination during the day.

“We are from Utah and this is our bucket list trip.”

The Tybee Island lighthouse has been a staple for Islanders, Tourists, and lighthouse volunteers.

And for volunteers like Jane Alexander, the lighthouse is their home away from home.

“I do it because this is a glorious place it really is, and it deserves to be kept up and preserved,” said Alexander.

But the price to do that is growing. That’s after a routine inspection last winter found the windows that protect the light source had been dripping.

That has allowed water to seep into the brick and create weaknesses and cracks.

The Tybee Island Historical Society has already been testing how much work it would take to remove the current paint so they can make repairs. Sarah Jones says they are on a time crunch to get started before the lighthouse takes any more damage.

“The problems that have to be corrected will only get worse if we don’t fix it but putting it off is not an option for us. We have to move forward,” said Sarah Jones, with the Tybee Island Historical Society.

The Tybee Island Historical Society currently has $750,000 raised, but is looking to close the gap.

“We do probably a half-million dollar project every three to four years but this all came at once. And we have the majority to do about 75% of project saved, because we knew the painting was coming up and that was gonna be $750,000 so we have that plus some reserved saved for emergencies. What we need is that last little bit to help us get the entire project done,” said Jones.

The restoration project is going to begin in November and will run through June 2024. The lighthouse is expected to be closed to the public from January 1 up until March.