a glowering heap of brownstone


Senior Member
Jo drove them down the mountain, over a bridge that crossed the Farmington River, and along the two blocks that made up Avondale’s downtown. There was a Catholic church, a glowering heap of brownstone, and down the street, a white clapboard Episcopalian church, with a cross thrust up into the wintry sky.
source: Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Why would you call a catholic church a glowering heap of brownstone? What does glowering refer to? the solemn nature?

Thank you.
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    My first thought was that heap was being used (possibly in error) in the same way as pile, which can mean a large and imposing building such as a mansion. As for glowering, I agree that this implies unwelcoming/forbidding.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think to some degree the idea of glowering just comes from the building material.

    a reddish brown sandstone, used as a building material:[uncountable]houses of beautiful old brownstone.

    It varies but is relatively dark. And if you make a large building out of it it's going to be a dark building in contrast with the white Episcopal church (which is painted).

    I don't know if it's an implicit comment on religion. Does the Catholic church come into the story? There are a lot of Catholics in the northern U.S., including Michigan where the story starts. Where is Avondale?
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >