High style Gothic Revival churches were constructed throughout the nation beginning in the 1840s. These buildings continue the Gothic ecclesiastical designs of Medieval Europe. Most of these high style Gothic Revival churches feature a Latin cross footprint like those found in European cathedrals, with a rectangular minority choice. Common exterior features include towers, often with spires, panel and lancet windows, buttresses, bell-cotes, rosette windows, and quatrefoil windows. Examples built prior to the Civil War were mostly limited to Episcopalian and Catholic church buildings; other denominations such as the Presbyterians and Methodists began to construct high style Gothic Revival churches after the Civil War when they made the move away from their nonconformist roots.
The interior of high style Gothic Revival churches retain the 3-part division of space that had been common in Medieval Europe. The main entrance leads into the narthex. The main seating area is the nave, where benches were organized in rows facing forward (in Medieval times, congregants stood for worship). Benches often feature Gothic elements such as quatrefoils and pointed arch recesses. Churches that have interior arcades that are partially supported by flying buttresses usually have benches in the side aisles. The innermost area is the chancel (called the sanctuary in Medieval times); this is the location of the altar and pulpit. Rich decorations and statuary are found in Catholic churches but usually not in churches of other denominations.