Comprehensive studies of structural tie rods in Charleston's load bearing masonry buildings are scarce. While the presence of these anchors on building facades fascinates passersby and is appreciated throughout the city, a general knowledge of their history and emergence as a technology is lacking. Often associated with the earthquake of 1886, iron tie rods were in fact present in Charleston buildings as early as the 18th century. And while the effect of the 1886 earthquake on Charleston's built environment is typically looked at from a sociological or political perspective, and the physical effect has been studied extensively, rarely has the history of Charleston's buildings been looked at in relation to their earthquake safety and resistance. In the direct aftermath and subsequent years following the earthquake of 1886, extensive studies were conducted to determine the effect on the Charleston's buildings. The use of iron tie rods abounded as an earthquake damage repair technique, yet documentation of their use is limited.
The following thesis presents an overview of iron tie rod form and function in Europe and America. Further narrowing in scope, it compiles information on the subject matter focusing specifically on the use of tie rods and `earthquake bolts' in Charleston. While this has not been an exhaustive study, its findings establish a solid foundation for future research of the Charleston building tradition and the universal preservation of wrought iron tie rod reinforcement in North America.