Top Posts of 2013: What Are The Stars On The Brick Building For? A Restoration Story

Top Posts of 2013: What Are The Stars On The Brick Building For? A Restoration Story

The following was originally posted on 26 January 2013.

I recently needed to research the purchase of “masonry stars” for an exterior restoration and renovation project in SoHo and figured I’d share with you what I found out as well as a great resource.  I really loved the way they looked on the old NYC brick buildings (and even newer ones like the Bowery Hotel) and wondered if they were merely decorative or served a purpose.  I even purchased an extra one for myself as a home decor item. Of course, I kind of knew the answer, but went searching for confirmation…

The Bowery Hotel New York City Exterior Building 480x337-e5b5a211-7220-4811-b19f-8c36610476a8-0-478x337

The best information I found on masonry stars, which are a type of masonry anchor plate, came from Wikipedia,

An anchor plate or wall washer is a large plate or washer connected to a tie rod or bolt. Anchor plates are used on exterior walls of masonry buildings, for structural reinforcement. Being visible, many anchor plates are made in a style that is decorative.[1]

18th Century Masonry Star Anchor Plate and Tie Rod

One popular style is the star anchor—an anchor plate cast or wrought in the shape of a five-pointed star. Other names and styles of anchor plate include earthquake washer, triangular washer, S-iron, and T-head.[1] In the United Kingdom, pattress plate is the term for circular restraints,[2] tie bar being an alternate term for rectangular restraints.

Masonry Star Anchor Plate on a building

Anchor plates are made of cast iron, sometimes wrought iron or steel, and are often used on brick or other masonry-based buildings. They are easy to find in cities with substantial legacies of 18th- and 19th-century brick construction, such as New YorkPhiladelphiaSt. Louis, and Charleston, South Carolina, and in older earthquake prone cities such as San Francisco, as well as earlier examples in Gamla Stan, the Old Town in Stockholm. The tie-rod-and-plate assembly braces the masonry wall against lateral bowing.

Masonry stars are those

The best (and surprisingly inexpensive) resource I found for these can be found at Adkins Architectural Antiques  & Treasures online. Please don’t spread the word! I think they’ve undervalued these.