If you have ever found yourself in Emmet Park, overlooking the Savannah River near the end of East Bay Street, you likely remember seeing The Old Harbor Light. There’s a good chance that you may have mistaken it for a very tall and ornate street lamp, rather than the beacon that began welcoming vessels into Savannah’s harbor more than 160 years ago. Its rich history and symbolism inspired the iconic logo for the Dewitt Tilton Group.
When Dewitt Tilton Group principals Andrew Dewitt and Chris Tilton were building the concept for their commercial construction business, they knew that they wanted to create a brand that embodies their commitment to excellence while paying homage to their deep Savannah roots.
The History of the Light
In 1856, $2,000 was appropriated for the United States Lighthouse Board to begin construction on what was then known as the Savannah Rear Range Light. It was erected to act as a navigational aid to vessels passing over the scuttled hulls of six ships that were intentionally sunk in the river channel during the Revolutionary War while the British occupied the city.
It should be noted, as Chris Tilton related, that the project was finished on time and under budget for $1,969.12 in 1858. Its 25 foot cast-iron ornamental shaft is painted a dark, almost black shade, often referred to as “Charleston Green.” The light was taken down for restoration in 1999 and relit on January 11, 2001. Still standing sentinel today, the light illuminates the small grassy park between Bay and River Streets.
How the Logo Came to Be
From the inception of the Dewitt Tilton Group, its founding partners knew that their focus would be crafting a process that guides every step of their clients’ needs while exceeding expectations from start to finish. Chris explains, “We sell a process, and our process is that we’ll help you from day one through the time we hand the keys over to you.” When searching for the perfect logo to embody their vision and capture their mission, Andrew and Chris sought input from long-time friends, business owners, attorneys and other prominent native Savannahians. One local lawyer friend asked what they wanted their image to convey. Upon hearing the response, “We want to be the shining light of Savannah,” that friend suggested that they research the Savannah Harbor Light and that’s what they did. As fate would have it, that beacon light turned out to be the perfect image for their brand. Chris contacted a local marketing firm to set the wheels in motion for their one-of-a-kind logo design. Their graphic artist spent time at the actual light to originally sketch by hand with pencil and paper, which is a rarity in the current world of digital graphic design. Her original sketch capturing the essence of the Old Harbor Light was a home run for the partners and they continue to use it as the centerpiece of their logo.
Many Layers of Symbolism
Beyond the obvious “guiding light” imagery it conjures, the choice to use the Old Harbor Light as their logo has an even deeper meaning for the Dewitt Tilton Group. Their guiding principles are to finish the job on time, at or under budget, and doing things “the right way.” Both Andrew Dewitt and Chris Tilton had instilled in their character the values that come with graduating from Benedictine Military School: hard work, honesty, integrity and fairness. The BEACON for commercial construction in Savannah and the South Carolina Lowcountry is CLEARLY the Dewitt Tilton Group.