Tybee lighthouse shines up

March 9th, 2004

More than a dozen volunteers put finishing touches of black and white paint Tuesday on the 231-year-old lighthouse here. Tybee residents hope the new coat of paint will help the structure — which looks like a colossal chess piece — gain national historic landmark status and draw more tourists.

Cullen Chambers, executive director of the Tybee Island Historical Society, which owns the lighthouse, said the work Tuesday was the latest part of a $1.5 million effort to restore the building and two historic structures nearby.

Chambers said the society plans later this year to ask the U.S. secretary of the interior to designate the Tybee lighthouse as a national historic landmark, which demonstrates national historic significance.

The first 60 feet of the tower were built in 1773, three years before the Declaration of Independence, but much of the lighthouse was destroyed during the Civil War by the retreating Confederate army. The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1867 to its present height.

The Tybee lighthouse was recently featured on a postage stamp.