Following the Civil War, denominations that were making the shift away from their nonconformist roots often built Chapel Plan churches with a limited amount of Gothic detailing and often incorporated one or two towers. The common label for this class of churches is "Single Asymmetrical Tower Churches," an unnecessarily clumsy label. For several denominations, such as the Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists, incorporating towers (of which steeples may be a part) was the first step in moving from plain houses of worship to a higher style architecture beginning in the late 19th century. The design usually provides a single entrance into the church, which is through the tower – a means of enforcing acceptance of the tower. In the 1870s, the entry tower was located off one corner rather than being centered on the main elevation. By the 1880s, new churches were often constructed with two towers (one at each corner on the main elevation). Exterior elements can include various decorative motifs such as buttresses, pointed arch windows, pinnacles, quatrefoil windows, ocular windows, and doors located in recessed pointed arch bays. In the original construction, windows used clear glass until around 1900 when stained glass – and electric lighting within – became the standard.
The interior of these churches represents a shift in design. Open pews, which were called "slip pews" at the time, were arranged in ranks facing the chancel area in the front. The use of the term "nave" was re-appearing, although some Protestant denominations called this area the "sanctuary" instead. The chancel area contained the altar and pulpit. Beginning in the 1890s, the choir was also located in the chancel for many denominations, behind the pulpit.