Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Planning, Development, and Preservation

Committee Member

Amalia T. Leifeste, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Craig M. Bennett Jr.

Committee Member

Richard D. Marks III

Committee Member

Frances H. Ford


Structural issues, and even structural failures, have recently emerged in a number of masonry structures built in the mid-19th century (1838-1860) in the Charleston area. There has not been a clear answer as to why these structural problems are occurring disproportionately to failures in buildings built in other time periods. Damage during the 1886 Earthquake led to several hypotheses of why buildings from this era were preforming poorly. This thesis investigates two hypotheses. It is crucial to determine if there is a reason or pattern for these problems and failures. The main intention of this thesis, starting with the assumption that there is indeed a problem in buildings built between 1838 and 1860, is to determine whether the location relative to soil type and the mortar quality of these buildings impact their structural performance in relation to buildings of other time periods. Findings from this study lead to suggestions of how to confront a mid-nineteenth century building with structural issues with a preservation engineering approach. The original hypothesis was that buildings built on made land were settling, but results revealed that 1838-1860 buildings were not disproportionately built on made land. It was discovered that several case study buildings contribute to the general understanding that buildings from this period have inferior mortar quality. This corroborate evidence was developed and proven through historical documents and lab tests. Due to the poor quality of the mortar tested, methods to strengthen the lateral capacity of mid-nineteenth century masonry buildings are suggested.



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