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Ocean Plaza Owner Harry Spirides Releases Book on Hotel Tybee

History of Tybee Island as a seaside resort outlined through story of Hotel Tybee

All of author’s profits going to charitable cause.

One hundred years ago Tybee Island’s Hotel Tybee was known as the “Finest resort between Atlantic City and Miami on the Atlantic Coast.” It was originally built in 1889, and it set the standard for resorts across the United States. Hotel Tybee enjoyed a rich and colorful history spanning over seven decades. Most of that hotel was torn down in 1961. It was located on Tybee Island between 14th and 15th Streets, where today’s Ocean Plaza Beach Resort is located. It served the public by hosting memorable vacations, conventions, and social events for more than 70 years.

After three years of researching and writing, Tybee Island author Harry Spirides officially released his book Hotel Tybee through a book signing event which was held at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Oglethorpe Mall on April 13th. The newest book in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series Hotel Tybee showcases the history of Tybee Island as a seaside beach resort destination by telling the fascinating story of Hotel Tybee. This book, through almost 200 vintage images, takes readers on a nostalgic visual journey back in time through seven decades of Hotel Tybee’s history. The book begins with Savannah businessman Daniel Purse owning most of undeveloped Tybee Island with the intention of transforming it into a seaside resort destination. In the 1880s, there were no roads to the island so Purse built a railroad connecting Tybee to Savannah. This resulted in thousands of new tourists flocking to Tybee’s beautiful beaches, though most could not stay overnight because of the lack of lodging accommodations. Seeing a great business opportunity, Herman Myers, then president of Savannah National Bank and future five term mayor of the City of Savannah, built Hotel Tybee. The book also tells how Hotel Tybee witnessed hurricanes, wars, a riot, murder, gambling, numerous social events, Prohibition, and the Great Depression.

Author Harry Spirides’ family now owns the land where Hotel Tybee once stood. It is where Ocean Plaza Beach Resort is located today. The Spirides family has operated businesses in Tybee Island's downtown commercial district for the past 70 years. Harry Spirides’ great uncle George Leonidas Spirides was the last general manager of Hotel Tybee, and his father George Harry Spirides was a maintenance man at Hotel Tybee before it was torn down. George Harry Spirides later bought the property upon which he built today’s Ocean Plaza Beach Resort. Author Harry Spirides as a child literally grew up at that property, and he has been working there for the past 30 years. Today, he is chief executive officer of his family’s hotel business.

All of Spirides’ profits from the sale of his book will be donated to restoring Tybee Island’s Tybee Post Theater into a vibrant community performing arts and cultural center.

When asked why he wrote his book Spirides replies, “I want to document the history of this grand old hotel before this information is lost forever, plus I think it could be an effective way to raise money for a good cause.”

Barnes & Noble community relations manager Peter Del Sol says, “Harry Spirides’ book Hotel Tybee is a great selling book with lots of interest from first time visitors to Savannah as well as the locals. It is a constant seller here at Barnes & Noble.”

Harry Spirides graduated from Benedictine Military High School in Savannah. He holds a bachelor of science degree in hospitality administration from Florida State University and a master of business administration degree from Mercer University. A military veteran, Spirides proudly served this country as a U.S. Coast Guard officer. He served three years active duty and eight years reserve duty. He separated from the service with an honorable discharge in 2008.

Copies of Spirides’ book Hotel Tybee are available for purchase at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Oglethorpe Mall in Savannah and on Tybee Island at the Tybee Island Lighthouse gift shop and at Tybee Island’s American Legion Post as well as several other shops on Tybee Island. The book may also be viewed and purchased online at http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/9780738590868/Hotel-Tybee.

Click on the below web link to read Savannah Morning Newspaper's article on the release of Harry Spirides' book Hotel Tybee. http://savannahnow.com/accent/2013-03-07/island-hopping-trip-back-hotel-tybee

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