First established in 1736, the original
Tybee Island Lighthouse was 90-foot tall, octagonal shaped, and constructed of
brick and cedar piles. Within five years of its construction, a second
lighthouse was commissioned and in 1741, a storm swept the original away.
The second lighthouse on Tybee Island was completed in 1742. However, in
1768, with water from the sea encroaching on its foundation, the Georgia
Assembly authorized a new lighthouse to be built. This third tower was
completed in 1773, and was 100-foot tall brick and wood built tower. A
second order Fresnel lens was installed in 1857, which greatly increased the
effectiveness of the light.
Confederate troops destroyed a portion of the tower by fire in order to prevent
Union forces from using the tower as a navigational aid in 1862. After the
Civil War, the US Lighthouse Establishment began rebuilding, using the intact
tower's 60-foot section. A first-order Fresnel lens was first exhibited on
October 1, 1867. In 1933 the tower was converted to electricity.