I am often asked what the 6″ metal star shaped thingies are that are often seen on the facade of many of Center City Condominium buildings.
Simply put, they are called star bolts. Though they come in many shapes, the star seems to be most prevelant here in downtown Philly. The purpose of the star shaped bolts are to prevent the facade from bowing out, or to perhaps to stop the process of the facade of many old rowhomes from bowing. They have a long rod that runs through the joists of the home, and is held in place by the endcap- the star bolt.
They are not for decorative purposes, rather as a structural element to prevent the facade from moving out of place from over exposure to water seepage (and freezing of that water). etc. These bolts were also added as protection from earth quakes. For example, all the old houses in Charlston, SC had these bolts installed after a large earthquake destroyed parts of the city.
So there you have it. Those bolts are doing more than just looking cute on the facade of many Society Hill homes.
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106