Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Planning, Development, and Preservation

Committee Member

Craig M. Bennett Jr., Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Carter L. Hudgins

Committee Member

Richard Marks


The Charleston Earthquake of 1886 damaged every recorded masonry building on the Charleston Peninsula. Newer unreinforced masonry buildings experienced more extensive damage than older ones. A USGS survey of this phenomenon, produced in 1889 by Captain C. E. Dutton, concluded that this variation in damage was caused by the difference in seismicity between “made” ground and solid ground. A more recent study by Robinson and Talwani (1983) concluded that quality of materials and craftmanship in construction caused the variation in damage. This thesis assesses Charleston’s masonry buildings’ susceptibility to seismic damage by their orientation, date of construction, brick bond, use, and soil base. Compilation of a database of building damage reveals the characteristics, or combination of characteristics, of buildings that fail under seismic load. 100 buildings were selected for the database based on photographic availability and image clarity from the Charleston Museum’s collection of Cook’s Earthquake Views. Characteristics recorded in the database consists of soil type, brick bond, orientation, date of construction, intended use, damage, and the presence of tie rods and pattress plates. This database can be used predictively to identify “at risk” buildings that lead to unreinforced masonry failure under seismic stresses.



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