Anomalous architecture abounds across the country, where regional oddities can offer everything from coal chutes to mother-in-law beds that drop from the ceiling. In Vermont, one trademark design is easily spotted from the street: it’s a slanted gable window installed at a seemingly random angle, and it’s known as a “witch’s window.” What is it, and well, why?
According to Vermont Public Radio, sloped windows are commonly seen in 19th-century farmhouses that added one-story living space after initial construction. Depending on how the level was built, it may be obscured by part of the roof. The builder or owner, wanting more natural light in the addition, would choose to install a window at an angle rather than having no window at all.
Why not order a custom window? This was rare, as farmers usually settled for stock models that they could order through catalogs. And if your renovation involved removing an old window, you’ve probably been tempted to recycle it somewhere else, even if you had to store it in a tight space.
But why call it a “witch’s window”? The answer may lie in some lingering superstitions about witches in New England, as it would be difficult for a person to fly when a window is tilted. They were also called “coffin windows”, because it was believed that it would be easier to pull a coffin out of a second-story window and slide it onto the roof through a more horizontal opening rather than through a narrow one. stairs. Realistically, however, if a body were to be moved, you would probably wait and place it in the coffin on the first floor.
Witch windows are also known as Vermont windows or lazy windows, although as any do-it-yourselfer will tell you, building an addition to their home is hardly a task for the idle.
[h/t Vermont Public Radio]