GA Lighthouse Undergoing Painting Assessment
An historic lighthouse in Georgia is currently undergoing a conditions assessment in preparation for a painting project scheduled for next year.
The Tybee Island Light Station is reportedly the oldest and tallest lighthouse in the state.
Light Station History
Originally constructed back in 1736, the Tybee Light Station is reportedly one of America’s most intact lighthouses, having all of its historic support buildings on the three-acre site. The structure is octagonal in shape, built up with brickwork and cedar piles.
The building stood at ninety feet tall, making it the tallest structure of its kind in America at the time. However, it was felled by a storm in 1741, with rebuilding efforts occurring the year after with stone and wood. The lighthouse was reportedly not illuminated either time, but used a very tall flag pole instead.
A third tower was erected in 1773 after the second structure was swept away by tides and erosion. This base, made of bricks, wooden stairs and landings, is the current base of the lighthouse.
In 1790, the 100-foot-tall structure was lit with candles and reflectors for the first time. It was upgraded to oil lamps soon after, acting as a navigation range for ships entering the narrow Savannah River.
However, the light station was destroyed once again during the Civil War by Confederate troops setting fire to prevent the Union from using it to guide ships into port. The wooden stairs and top 40 feet of the tower were burned, leaving the lower 60 feet that are still intact today.
The current lighthouse consists of masonry and metal only, and it is completely fireproof, standing at 145 feet. The keepers dwellings were installed in 1933 as the tower was fitted with electricity. The beacon became automated in 1972.
A restoration project began in 1999 by the Tybee Island Historical Society, and the tower was repainted in the black-white-black daymark in 2002. The lighthouse and surrounding acres feature an on-location museum, gift shop and an opportunity to climb the 178 steps to the top of the beacon.
Conditions Assessment, Painting Plans
According to reports, the Light Station is due to undergo an almost $1 million painting project in 2024. However, before that occurs, workers will conduct a conditions assessment to determine their next steps.
Specifically, the crews are looking at the stucco on the lighthouse that coats the brick. During the repainting process, workers are reportedly hoping to strip off all the existing paint.
“As you can see, it’s not as shiny and as dark as it once was, so we’re hoping to get in there and make sure that it looks as good as it did the day it was first painted. It’s a daymark,” said Sarah Jones, Executive Director, Tybee Light Station and Museum.
“It’s got to be seen from the ocean. You can’t let those colors fade. So, our job is to make sure that it stays nice and the color stays nice and intense.”
The project foreman told reporters that the project will involve scaffolding being set up at the top of the lighthouse and crews rappelling down the side. Jones noted that most of the work is anticipated to be completed in the morning and evening when the museum is closed, but there’s a possibility of other closures.
The assessment reportedly began on Feb. 6 and is expected to be completed by March 16.