Lion Heads, Stars and Rosettes…

              Charles Towne, founded in 1670, was originally located on the west end of the Ashley River.  Finding itself as an easy target of foreign invaders, colonists relocated the city to its current location at Oyster Point only 10 years after its original establishment.  While the move aided in the protection of foreign invasions, it didn’t fend off unforeseen attacks below.  

Charleston was built on the Woodstock Fault Line, the source of a devastating earthquake in 1886.  The fault showed little activity prior to 1886, which scientists believe could’ve caused the severity of the disaster, damaging or destroying thousands of buildings in the area.  Fault line activity has been recorded since then, but it’s believed that the tremors are actually aftershocks from the original earthquake. 
In preparation for possible future quakes, architects rebuilt homes and buildings using “earthquake bolts,” formerly known as “pattress plates.”   These bolts anchor iron rods that run through the walls of buildings to help support the structure during an earthquake.  The design literally bolts the exterior of a building to its interior. 

                 Home and business owners made these bolts more aesthetically pleasing by placing shapes on top of the bolts, such as lion heads, stars, rosettes or even using stucco material.  Architects argue that the possibility of a future earthquake can be the only determining factor as to whether or not these bolts are actually beneficial.  While this practice may seem one of the past, businesses, such as the Charleston Cigar Factory, continue to incorporate the design into recent renovations. Regardless, the bolts remain a staple of traditional Charleston architecture, and are still easily admired on many historical buildings.

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