We see them everywhere. On the sides or fronts of many homes in our neighborhoods, in country decorating and most notably above barn doors. But what is the significance of these five pointed stars? Let’s take a look below.
Many “barn stars” like our Copper Stars seen here to the left, are for decor purposes only. But they weren’t always for simply adding style to the outside of a family’s home. As early as the beginning of the 18th century, historians note the use of barn stars or Barnstars. Getting their roots in many German American farming communities, focused particularly on the east coast in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The star represented a builder’s personal mark on the exterior of a completed structure; whether that be a barn, factory or town building. The color or difference in shape identified the individual maker’s craftsmanship. Once built directly into into the barn, builders of this time found it easier to create a separate wooden stars and then attach it to the structure. Remaining a popular fixture on farmsteads of the time, a second significance emerged. Some said the star was a symbol of good luck and fortune; many homes or barns would not go without one for this reason. Interestingly, barn stars found an even greater surge in popularity after the end of the American Civil War.
Barn stars are not to be confused with “hex-signs” which were found in many Pennsylvania Dutch villages as outdoor barn decoration. Hex signs typically incorporated a star motif, but were elaborate painted decor, featuring quilt patterns or circles. Barn stars are also sometimes used to describe the cast iron anchor plates that were attached to brick or other masonry based buildings during this time. While sometimes shaped like a star, these were actually used for their structural reinforcement capabilities and are not barn stars as we understand them today.
In modern times, the barn star is used as a widespread theme in country, primitive, Americana and Amish decorating. Transitioning from the old wooden stars, today’s barn star is primarily made of metal in varying grades of thickness. To create a feeling of an antique or weathered relic from the past, they are often left in their original state; perhaps using distressed painting techniques or rusted to appear more traditional. The aesthetics of a barn star are pleasing to the eye and have come to garner a color symbolism as well. With the modern use and interpretation of feng shui, color can be very important to the “mood” of a home. For example a black barn star means protection; a blue barn star equals peace and spirituality; brown barn stars represent mother Earth and strength; white means purity; and a green barn star on the outside of your home is sending a message of growth and success. Whichever color you choose, know that the barn star brings with it a true American history story.