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Architectural Description of the First Presbyterian Church


The First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte includes two historic Gothic Revival Style masonry church buildings, the  sanctuary and the attached 1895 Sunday School Building, now a chapel.  The present sanctuary was completed in 1895 and incorporates the facade of a 1857 church building, and  the spire which was rebuilt in 1884.  The sanctuary is front-gabled with a massive square tower centered in the facade.  The sanctuary and the chapel have recently been covered with masonry boards covered with stucco and scored  to resemble stone blocks, which mimics the original stucco-on-brick walls.  The roofs are covered with slate shingles and accented with copper flashing.  The sanctuary and the chapel are illuminated by numerous stained-glass windows, many in pointed-arch window openings.  The church  occupies an entire city block.  A metal spike fence, integrated with vestiges of a 19th century iron fence, surrounds the property.  The southern half of the property is park-like, with mature trees dotting a large lawn.  A curving drive separates the church buildings from the lawn. 




The sanctuary's most prominent feature is a three-stage tower, centered on the facade of the gabled building.   The Sanctuary is three bays wide, and the main entrance is located in the tower with double pine doors with pointed-arched panels.  The entrance is  approached by granite steps with granite handrails and pointed newel posts.   Above the doors is a single large gothic-arch window.  The tower's third stage features recessed panels and is topped by crenellated parapet walls with pinnacles on the four corners.  All of the many pinnacles that rise from the walls and towers of the buildings are covered with copper and topped with five-pointed finials.  The eight-sided spire is divided into four sections and covered with slate shingles in a diamond pattern.  The lowest section of the spire features four louvered gabled dormers.  Four smaller dormers are located high in the spire's second section.  Carved diamonds with crockets are located in the second and third sections.  The spire's top section is covered with crockets.  The tower is supported by corner stepped-buttresses.  Secondary doors are located in the facade on either side of the tower.  These single pine doors feature triple pointed-arch panels, and are topped with pointed-arch windows.  The facade is topped by parapet walls that begin at tall corner buttresses and terminate at the tower.  The sloping parapet walls are pierced at regular intervals by small loop openings.  The sanctuary is five bays deep, with the side bays delineated by stepped buttresses.  The side bays contain gothic-arch windows.  The windows incorporate exterior multi light windows that protect stained glass.  The  principal roof section is covered with slate shingles accented with rows of cut "fish-scale" shingles.   The west elevation features a gabled section with one large pointed-arch opening.  The rear of principal building is divided into three sections featuring a round vent and a massive masonry flue. 

The front-gabled chapel is attached to the east elevation of the sanctuary.  The chapel features a three-stage square tower with a crenellated parapets and corner finials.  The front and south side gables are steeply pitched and feature rows of narrow windows on the first and second stories.  One bay extends to the east, containing and entrance with a replacement door.   The rear of the chapel features a center gabled section with a gothic-arch window over replacement door.  A late 20th-century front-gabled building is locate to the east of the chapel.  The building is well differentiated with faux-arch windows and darker colored stucco. 

A massive, late-20th century, stuccoed educational building is connected to the west elevation of the sanctuary.  The large two-story building features gables, projecting bays, and a flat-roofed section.  The educational building projects south, slightly past the facade of the sanctuary, and blocks the view of the sanctuary from the west.

The interior of the sanctuary features a vaulted ceiling accented with timber framing.  Doorways, windows, and a large alcove are situated in gothic-arch openings accented with wood trim.  Pews and fixtures appear to date from the mid-20th century.