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A Description of Gothic Architecture

A style featuring pointed arches and vaults in windows or doors, steeply pitched gables, and balanced thrusts in stone masonry. Stone sinews are visible in the structure. Stone curtain walls achieve great height. This is achieved with flying buttresses which direct the thrust of the heavy stone walls to prevent collapse. This style flourished in the 1200s thrugh 1400s. Gothic Revival architecture peaked from the 1750s to about 1900. It became one of the preferred styles for church achitecture in the United States. The style is elaborate and decorative. Some decorative elements include: tracery, gargoyles, pinnacles, and stained glass windows.


arch - a curved structure spanning an open space, supporting the weight above it.

boss - a decoration (wood or stone) over the intersection of ribs or in the center of a panel or coffer.

clerestory - an upward expansion of an interior space created by many vertical windows in a wall.

crocket - a decorative ornament to a decrative design, usually stylized foliage, and is often found on spires.

finial - the terminal point of a spire, pinnacle, or gable.

flying buttress - a buttress (a pier that supports a wall) with a rampant arch which supports the masonry curtain walls of Gothic construction.

parapet - a low retaining wall at the edge of a roof, proch, or terrace.

pier - an upright support.

pinnacle - a terminal ornament found on roofs, buttresses, or other high points.

rib - a transverse or diagonal member of a vault.

tracery - decorative, curving mullions of a window.

triforium - a gallery of arches above the longitudinal arches along the nave of a church.

vault - part of a structure roofed by arched masonry.

Examples of Gothic Architecture in Mecklenburg County

Advent Christian Church
Carter Hall - Johnson C. Smith University
Good Samaritan Hospital
Grace AME Zion Church
Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church
Old Holy Comforter Espicopal Church
Mt. Carmel Baptist Church
Mt. Zion Lutheran Church
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
First ARP Church
First United Presbyterian Church
Steele Creek Presbyterian Church
St. Peter's Episcopal Church