Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Historic Preservation

Advisor

Hudgins, Carter L.

Committee Member

Lounsbury, Carl

Committee Member

Graham, Willie

Committee Member

Muldrow, Ralph

Abstract

Charleston, South Carolina is renowned for the impressive churches, civic buildings, and mansions which line its historic streets. Although scholars have studied many of these famous structures in depth, the roof framing methods used to construct these large buildings has rarely been studied or documented. Where documentation exists it is rudimentary at best, often only identifying the overall form of the roof or the material used for the roof covering. The truss roof system was designed to accommodate buildings with a spans greater than twenty five feet wide. The implementation of these truss roof designs enabled the construction of Charleston icons such as St. Michael's Church, the Courthouse, and the Nathaniel Russell House. A greater understanding of the truss roof forms used is thus needed to gain a holistic understanding of the construction technologies employed to create the buildings for which Charleston is so famous.
This thesis identifies the truss roof forms implemented in Charleston from 1740-1820. For each truss roof form identified, European design influences are discussed and a description of the truss' structural behaviors are provided. Additionally, each truss roof identified in this study is documented and closely examined for a unique provincial style. While this is not an exhaustive study of all existing resources built within the timeframe specified, the findings of this study present an essential first step in establishing a comprehensive understanding of the Charleston building tradition in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

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