Building Language: Steeple

Written by on October 30, 2012 in Building Language - 1 Comment
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Steeples on St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church (126 West Georgia Street)

Steeple. The architectural term steeple refers to the entire tower and spire as found on religious architecture. The steeple will rise above the roofline of the building and can vary in height. The tower is determined to be the base of the steeple and often may house the church bells. Then, the polygonal/ circular/ square/ octagonal pointed structure on top of the tower is known as the spire. A spire may be topped with a finial featuring some type of cross. The tower will often retain the architectural design and materials of the primary structure, while the spire may use a contrasting material including stone, copper, slate, or tile.  The entire steeple will feature some type of ornamentation, typically complementing the rest of the ornament scheme and architectural style of the church.

The 1860s Gothic Revival St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church (126 West Georgia Street) features two steeples on its primary façade. The steeples are identical, each features brick with limestone trim on the tower portion, with space and vents for the church bells. The spires rise above the towers using a bright, green metal to contrast the brick structure. Finial crosses top both spires.

Steeple on the Christ Church Cathedral (125 Monument Circle).

Another iconic church found on the Circle in downtown Indianapolis is the 1857 Christ Church Cathedral (125 Monument Circle). This Gothic Revival church features a singular steeple located in the southwestern corner of the building, rising high above the roofline of this structure. The limestone tower features pointed windows that house the church bells, while the octagonal spire rises high above the church. Once again, this spire is green to contrast to the building material, with small window vents found in the center of the spire. The top features a unique finial. The wonderful history of the Christ Church Cathedral has been featured in other posts, so you can learn more about this Gothic Revival treasure.

Add it to your vocabulary – how might one use today’s Building Language term in their everyday life?

The bells rang from the steeple to celebrate the holiday season.

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About the Author

Raina Regan is an architectural historian employed by the Indiana National Guard. Her work encompasses statewide cultural resources projects with National Register eligible or listed structures. Raina has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Visual Culture from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Ball State University. Raina is an Indiana import by way of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan and loves the culture and architecture of the Midwest.

One Comment on "Building Language: Steeple"

  1. basil berchekas jr October 30, 2012 at 8:15 am · Reply

    Will stay with this excellent article!

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