What does a star on the side of a house mean?
May 27, 2008 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Is there any meaning associated with stars on the sides of houses? On Virginia's Eastern shore, I saw a bunch of houses with 5-sided stars like this one on their sides. Most were black, but some were more muted colors. Do they mean anything?

These weren't flags, like those hung by Blue (or Gold) Star Mothers. I haven't seen any similar stars around DC or its environs (but I may not have noticed).
posted by i love cheese to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
I've seen them around our neighborhood (Upstate NY). I think they're just a folk art decoration.
posted by Lucinda at 6:50 PM on May 27, 2008

Best answer: Barnstars
History of the Barn Star in North America
posted by candyland at 6:56 PM on May 27, 2008

from this site:

"Absolutely the rage - great for Americana decor, country decor or any home decor!"
posted by Lucinda at 6:56 PM on May 27, 2008

i'm so glad someone asked this. i've been wanting to know forever.

(i always suspected it was something to do with the pennsylvania dutch or amish or something, like hex signs and the like. but i'm just a good ole' southern girl, and these things are very mysterious to me.)
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:56 PM on May 27, 2008

I have seen them for sale all over the place here in Florida.. In my Ballard Home Design Catalog at Kirklands, Bed Bath and Beyond and Pier One.
I think they are just a popular item right now.
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 6:57 PM on May 27, 2008

My father-in-law is a home builder and we were having lunch in south St. Louis once when I noticed them on the sides brick of houses there. I think he said they were a decorative cap for the iron rebar used to support multiple stories in older brick homes.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 7:00 PM on May 27, 2008

In Texas, they're meant to signify the lone star -- it signifies the Republic of Texas back when it was a nation separate from the rest of the United States. It's a decent replacement for flying a state flag.
posted by SpecialK at 7:02 PM on May 27, 2008

The decorative ones are referred to as Barn Stars and seem to be mostly decorative though some say they bring good luck.
posted by any major dude at 7:03 PM on May 27, 2008

I was tempted to post the same thing as SpecialK - the exact same star has a much different meaning in the Lone Star State than it must have in Pennsylvania.
posted by muddgirl at 7:04 PM on May 27, 2008

I think he said they were a decorative cap for the iron rebar used to support multiple stories in older brick homes.

Kind of. They usually are plates attached to bolts or something else that goes through the wall to support the floor framing for levels above the ground floor. For example, the bolt might go through a board on the interior side of the wall. Floor joists would then be attached to that board (called a ledger) rather than having to insert them into pockets left in the masonry and firecutting the ends of the joists.

So, what's firecutting? If they were to just insert the joist ends into the wall, they'd have to cut a triangle off the end of the joist so that if there were a fire that burned out the middle of the joist, the remaining joist wouldn't act as a lever and lift up the masonry wall sitting on top of it. When the joist is firecut, it just falls out of the wall pocket when it loses support from the other end.
posted by LionIndex at 7:25 AM on May 28, 2008

I heard that in the DC metro area, there was actually an earthquake (or maybe a hurricane) a long time ago and these stars were put in as an anchor to keep the walls from cracking.
posted by onepapertiger at 12:20 PM on May 28, 2008

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