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Architectural Terms

Arched recess at the end of a church.

A series of arches supported by columns or piers.

A lintel or beam resting on columns, the lowermost member of a classical entablature.

The upright support, often decoratively carved or turned, in a handrail or balustrade.


  1. A public building of ancient Rome having a central nave with an apse at one or both ends and two side aisles formed by rows of columns, which was used as a courtroom or assembly hall.
  2. A Christian church building of similar design, having a nave with a semicircular apse, two or four side aisles, a narthex, and a clerestory

A structure designed and situated to look out upon a pleasing view and therefore often place atop a building.

A structure, usually brick or stone, built against a wall for support or reinforcement.

A bell tower, usually one near but not attached to a church or other public building.

The uppermost portion of a column, pillar, or shaft, usually characteristic of an order, supporting the entablature.

A concave molding with a cross section that approximates a quarter circle.

The space around the altar of a church for the clergy and sometimes the choir, often enclosed by a lattice or railing.


  1. The upper part of the nave, transepts, and choir of a church containing windows.
  2. An upper portion of a wall containing windows for supplying natural light to a building.

Coffered (ceiling)
A decorative sunken panel in a ceiling, dome, soffit or vault.

A small column, in Federal architecture often flanking a doorway.

A horizontal molded projection that crowns or completes a building or wall.

A light structure on a dome or roof, serving as a belfry, lantern, or belvedere.

The upper section of a wall or story that is usually supported on columns or pilasters that consists of classical orders of architrave, frieze, and cornice.

A slight convexity given to columns.

The part of a classical entablature between the architrave and the cornice.

Triangular upper part of the wall at the end of a ridged roof.

Narthex - vestibule

  1. A portico or lobby of an early Christian or Byzantine church or basilica, originally separated from the nave by a railing or screen.
  2. An entrance hall leading to the nave of a church.

The central part of a church, extending from the narthex to the chancel and flanked by aisles.

A column with its base and capital, together with the entablature which it supports. The Greek orders are Doric, distinguished by a capital consisting of a plain curved molding, triglyph in the frieze, and the absence of a base; Ionic with its scroll-like capital; and Corinthian, in which the capital consists of stylized acanthus leaves.

An ornament consisting of radiating fronds or petals arranged in a palm-like pattern, closely related to the Egyptian lotus and Greek anthemion, in the Doric order often applied to the soffit at its corners.

A low gable or gable-like feature, typically triangular and outlined with cornices, usually placed over a door, window, or porch.

A shallow rectangular feature projecting from a wall, having a capital and base and usually imitating the form of a column.

A small, upright structure, capping a tower, buttress, or other projecting architectural member; common in nineteenth-century Gothic Revival buildings.

A structure consisting of a roof supported by columns or piers, usually attached to a building as a porch.

Masonry deliberately rough and laid up in oversized and crude blocks, usually in basements.

The holiest part of a sacred place, as the part of a Christian church around the altar.

The underside of a subordinate part or member of a building, such as a staircase, entablature, archway, or cornice.

Architectural ornamental work with branching lines, especially decorative openwork in a Gothic window.

The transverse part of a cruciform church, crossing the nave at right angles.

A framework of wood, designed to carry roof loads, that usually spans from wall to wall.

The common building style of a period or place.

James Patrick, Architecture in Tennessee, 1768-1897 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1981).