Attractions August 19, 2019
Here’s The Story Behind The Unusual Architectural Feature You’ll Only Find In Vermont
Every region has its peculiarities. Sometimes its food, sometimes its fashion, but in Vermont’s case, it’s definitely windows. This state is home to some curiously shaped windows with an even more curious origin story. Here’s the backstory behind Vermont’s so called “witch windows.”
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If you’re a longtime Vermonter, you may already know the story behind one of our state’s most unusual architectural features. However, newcomers are often baffled by the strangely askew windows sometimes found in Vermont homes.
Known as "witch windows," these windows are normally situated at the gable-end wall of a home. They’re typically narrow and are rotated about 45 degrees from a vertical position.
This means that the window appears to be parallel with the slope of the roof. Why construct a window in such a weird manner? Turns out, it may have to do with witches…or maybe coffins.
According to old Vermont superstition, it’s said that a witch wouldn’t be able to fly into a home if faced with such an oddly angled window. Other sources say that the windows where installed so that coffins could be easily removed from homes after wakes; they could simply slide down the angled roofs to the first floor.
However, the most likely origin of these bizarre windows is much more mundane. Witch windows were probably popularized by local farms looking to add some fresh air and sunshine to awkwardly located second floor rooms.
Today, witch windows are also known as "lazy windows," "Vermont windows," or "coffin windows." They’re sometimes added to new buildings in order to avoid the expense and trouble of fitting a custom window to a diagonal wall, but are most often found in old farmhouses from the 1800s.
For more unusual attractions and stories, check out the
18 weirdest places you could ever possibly go in Vermont.