THE REOPENING OF THE TYBEE POST THEATER!
from Tybee Vacation Rentals – See Original Here
On Saturday September 26th, 2015 the Tybee Post Theater will finally be reopening its doors to the public! From 6pm to 8pm come and visit the Theater and marvel at all the hard work and energy that has been put into making this historical location alive again.
Ft. Screven Builds a Theater
The Tybee Post Theater was no exception to this general rule. The first Post Theater was a simple tent and showed silent films, but the second one was one of the last major buildings of Fort Screven’s 279 structures. It was built in 1930 of red brick with white wooden cornices in a modest Greek revival style. The pediment featured a lunette above three windows. Shallow wings on either side of the entrance sported arched poster windows. The front doors opened into a small entrance foyer. There was a central aisle with the usual side aisles. The floor was concrete with rubber mats for traction. Sound motion pictures or talkies began in 1929, and it has been claimed the Tybee Theater was one of the first in Georgia to have a sound system. It was standard U.S. Government theater design and is similar to theaters at Fort Benning, Georgia and Fort Hancock, New Jersey. It was almost 5,000 square feet and was capable of seating approximately 250 persons. The interior was originally “Streamline Moderne.”
During its heyday, the theater was patronized by the 500 post soldiers and their wives. Tybee’s young ladies attended as dates of the soldiers, and others might be allowed in at the discretion of the door keeper. Although this was a time before air-conditioning, the theater became the highlight of recreational activities at the fort. Perhaps the most famous patrons were George and Katherine Marshall, future President Dwight David Eisenhower and Savannah’s own native son, famed lyricist Johnny Mercer. Today the Tybee Island Museum (located in Battery Garland) has a collection of playbills shown at the Post Theater including two 1940 movies, “The Seahawk” starring Errol Flynn and “The Westerner” starring Gary Cooper with Walter Brennen. The theater showed cartoons and Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon shorts to keep its patrons coming back each week. Newsreels kept everyone up with the latest happenings around the world. Officers and their families had reserved seats on the three back rows. It was also the scene for children’s activities such as dance recitals and musical performances.
Theater Declared Surplus by US Army
On October 21, 1944, the U.S. War Department declared Fort Screven surplus, and the last use of the theater by the U.S. Army was in 1945, after only fifteen years of use. The next sixty years witnessed many owners, a devastating fire which destroyed the wooden stage area and the rear part of the roof, vandalism and a 1999 request for demolition by a developer. The theater had fallen under the curse which has visited so many theaters in the Savannah area.
In 1945, the town, then called Savannah Beach, acquired the Fort Screven property containing 138 acres and 279 buildings for a mere $200,000.00. Slowly the property was divided and sold off. In 1949, the owners of the Lucas Theater in downtown Savannah acquired the theater property and made it “modern in every particular.” $30,000.00 was spent on air-conditioning, new seats and new projection machinery. The Tybee Museum has a playbill advertising the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street” starring Maureen O’Hara, and the Georgia Historical Society has a c. 1950 photograph of the Beach Theater which was currently showing “Kansas Raiders” starring Audie Murphy. The Beach Theater, as it was known, had a short run until about 1962, when it was closed. The last movie on the marquee was “Shane”.
Building Saved from Demolition
The Tybee Historical Society saved the building from demolition by purchasing the property in 2001. The same year the the Friends of Tybee Theater (FOTT) was formed as a support group. FOTT acquired title in 2006 and began planning the rebirth of the theater. SPLOST funding of $350,000 was used in 2008 to refurbish the walls, recondition the steel roof structure and install a new roof. Later that year the Friends of Tybee Theater received a $30,000 state grant (Historic Preservation license tag fees) to restore the facade. Architect Neil Dawson was retained to create a construction plan to complete the Theater.
( History, information and all images shared directly from theTybee Post Theater website and Facebook page)
Renovations and Refurbishment:
After many years and numerous hurdles, the Tybee Post Theater has been slowly restored back to its original glory. What was once a shell of yesteryear is now a warm welcoming building! The grand opening will be on September 26th from 6pm to 8pm. All are welcome to visit and see all the hard work that has been done and celebrate the accomplishments and the re-opening of this historic building. There is no charge to visit the theater. The event opens up with a ribbon cutting marking the occasion by Mayor Jason Buelterman and Tybee City Council. And then complimentary champagne and hor d’oeuvres will be served under an outdoor tent with live music from Girlfriends and Sassy Cats & The Toms on the theater stage. And if you want to see the theater truly in action stop by the evening after, September 27th to see Tybee’s Got Talent! A Tybee special event to showcase our amazing locals! Tickets are only $10.
Theater Refurbishment Fun Facts:
- The red chairs are from the Old Trustee’s Theater in Savannah and are being restored and repainted for the new theater.
- The walk way to the entrance of the theater was created by red bricks purchased by locals and fellow Tybee lovers and personally engraved There are also a few big Hollywood stars that are engraved as well.
- The box office was built to mirror the original from the 1930’s. It is made from wood, marble and glass.
- The Tybee Historical Society started the mission to rebuilt the theater and raise the funds to do so starting in 2000.
- In 2012 the plans to rebuild were set and they began to refurbish the walls and recondition the steel roof structure and it was all finally finished September 2015.