Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Historic Preservation (MHP)


Planning, Development, and Preservation

Committee Member

Amalia Leifeste

Committee Member

Frances Ford

Committee Member

Richard Marks

Committee Member

Ralph Muldrow


A range of preservation tools are available to homeowners and architectural conservators caring for historic buildings with stone, guiding preservation treatment choices for the material. These tools include historical research, material testing, and comparison to other buildings where treatments have been tested on a similar stone. This thesis seeks to establish a basic understanding of two stone types used in the construction of buildings in an area of the oldest district in Charleston, South Carolina built prior to 1800. This study will utilize the basic preservation tools of research and material analysis to create a catalogue of stone with both known and unknown origins. This is intended to advance the general understanding of what stone, imported from what quarry, and used in what applications are present in Charleston’s early building culture, to provide a set for comparison for interested parties to learn more about the origin of stone found in their buildings.

This study included a survey of exterior stone in Charleston used in buildings dating prior to 1800. From this survey, several case studies were selected based on the prominence and availability of historic resources. Physical analysis was conducted including hardness, state of aggregation, rift and grain, and color. These basic properties create a baseline for further research, as well as providing a quantifiable dataset for comparison of samples that could not be determined through documented records. Microscope slides were prepared when samples could be taken for testing while others were tested in situ using non-destructive methods.

The results of this thesis indicate that there is significantly more sandstone in Charleston than limestone. Much of this stone is believed to be from subsequent nineteenth century alterations. English Portland limestone is the oldest stone used in Charleston, and Aquia Creek sandstone from Virginia is the earliest domestic stone used, seen as early as 1788. The physical analysis serves as the beginning of a catalogue of stone in Charleston to help determine the best preservation treatments for each type.



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