Clerestory Windows

A clerestory is a high wall with a band of narrow windows along the very top. The clerestory wall usually rises above adjoining roofs.

Originally, the word clerestory referred to the upper level of a church or cathedral. The Middle English word clerestorie means "clear story," which describes how an entire story of height was cleared to illuminate large interiors.

If you want to maintain wall space AND keep a room well-lighted, consider this type of window arrangement for your home. Clerestory windows are most often used to naturally illuminate large spaces such as sports arenas, transportation terminals, and gymnasiums.


Clerestory is pronounced "clear story".

Dictionary Definition: clerestory, clearstory

1. An upper zone of wall pierced with windows that admit light to the center of a lofty room.Dictionary of Architecture and Construction, Cyril M. Harris, ed., McGraw-Hill, 1975, p. 108


  • Clerestory windows illuminate the kitchen of Frank Lloyd Wright's Zimmerman House.

  • Early Christian Byzantine Architecture featured these windows to shed overhead light into the massive spaces builders were beginning to construct.

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