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Tybee Post Theater.

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Get to Know the History of the Tybee Post Theater

By: Ansley Connor

The Tybee Post Theater is not only the sole entertainment venue on Tybee Island, it is also an iconic structure with a rich history of its own.

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Although it is now restored, the Tybee Post Theater went through its own battle to get where it is today.

Officers Row within the Fort Screven neighborhood.

Built in the 1930s, the Tybee Post Theater is located in the heart of the historic Fort Screven District. This neighborhood was once home to a military base that was active from the Spanish-American War through the end of World War II. During this time, the theater, formerly named the Fort Screven Theater, served as a movie house for the U.S. Army soldiers and their families stationed within the fort. It was one of the very first theaters in Georgia equipped to show “talkies” - the earliest feature-length movies with recorded sounds. When the army was decommissioned in 1947, the buildings on the base were converted into homes, except for the theater which remained.

At the end of World War II, the military base declared a surplus and was sold to the City of Savannah Beach, now known as Tybee Island. Its land and many structures were auctioned off to the public, but, once again, the theater remained.

Photo courtesy of @manwithvanplans via Instagram.

The family that owned the beloved Lucas Theatre in Savannah started to operate the movie house and changed its name to the Beach Theater. They managed the building until the mid-1960s before going dark. For the next 30 years, the historic landmark stood vacant.

During those three decades, the building endured many challenges. It was transferred between several different owners and suffered a devastating fire. The tragic fire destroyed the wooden stage and much of the roof.  

In 1999, a developer applied for a demolition permit to clear the area. The City of Tybee Island quickly realized the significance of the building and obtained a temporary lease for the property. Two years later, the Tybee Island Historical Society purchased the building, permanently saving it. That same year, a group of concerned Tybee citizens formed Friends of the Tybee Theater (FOTT), which became a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of this cherished landmark.

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In the coming years, the FOTT embarked on a mission and took extensive measures to restore and reopen the theater. In 2006, they purchased the building from the Historical Society and worked tirelessly to raise funds necessary to conduct a renovation. In 2008, the walls of the building were refurbished, the steel roof structure was reconditioned, a new roof was installed, followed by new doors and windows.

Four years later, they drew plans for the final restoration of the auditorium, and in September of 2015, they opened the revitalized theater, giving this historic treasure its voice once again.

Tybee Island Wine Festival

The Tybee Post Theater now serves as the only entertainment venue on the island, putting on shows, performances and movie screenings throughout the year. They even host the annual Tybee Wine Festival, where visitors and locals alike sip international wines and sample fresh coastal seafood dishes. All the proceeds go towards the ongoing restoration, operation and programming of the theater.  You can find the full list of their calendar events here.  

Whether you are visiting Tybee Island for a beach vacation or just exploring for the day, a trip to the Tybee Post Theater is a must-do. Filled with rich history, good company and even better entertainment, you are sure to fall in love with this precious Tybee landmark. To watch a historical video from the Tybee Post Theater, click here.

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