What Is a Witch Window: Unraveling the Architectural Mysteries

What Is a Witch Window?

A witch window, also known as a Vermont window, is a window that is placed in the gable-end wall of a house and rotated approximately 45 degrees from the vertical position.

It is primarily found in Vermont, particularly in the central and northern parts of the state, and is commonly installed in 19th-century farmhouses.

The name “witch window” comes from a folk belief that witches cannot fly through the tilted windows, although this belief is unlikely to have been taken seriously.

They are also known as “coffin windows” and “sideways” or “lazy windows.” The construction of these windows is a solution to the limited wall space available in gable ends when expanding a house.

By rotating the window, both the window area and the incoming light and ventilation are maximized.

Another explanation for the window’s orientation is that it allows hot air to escape from the top of the room on summer afternoons.

Witch windows are slanted to align with the siding on the wall, making it easier to cut and waterproof the frame-siding joint.

They are rare in Vermont as dormer windows are not commonly found, and rotating the window is a solution to maximize space in gable-end walls.

Key Points:

  • Witch windows are placed in the gable-end wall of a house and rotated approximately 45 degrees from the vertical position.
  • They are primarily found in Vermont, specifically in the central and northern parts of the state.
  • Witch windows are also known as “coffin windows” and “sideways” or “lazy windows.”
  • The rotation of the window maximizes both the window area and incoming light and ventilation.
  • One explanation for the window’s orientation is that it allows hot air to escape from the top of the room on summer afternoons.
  • Witch windows are slanted to align with the siding on the wall, making it easier to cut and waterproof the frame-siding joint.

Did You Know?

1. Witch windows are also known as “coffin windows” due to their peculiar shape resembling a coffin on its side.

2. These unique windows can be found predominantly in the American state of Vermont, particularly in the area known as the Champlain Valley.

3. Witch windows were originally designed and installed to serve a practical purpose – to make it easier for movers to transport larger furniture and objects in and out of a house.

4. It is believed that witch windows received their name due to a superstition that witches, who traditionally cannot fly through slanted or angled openings, would be unable to enter a house with one of these windows.

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5. Legend has it that if you look out of a witch window during a storm, you might catch a glimpse of a witch riding her broomstick across the darkened sky.

Definition And Location Of Witch Windows

A witch window, also known as a Vermont window, is a peculiar architectural feature found in the gable-end walls of houses, particularly in central and northern parts of Vermont. These windows are distinct as they are rotated approximately 45 degrees from their vertical position, creating a unique and intriguing appearance. Witch windows have a rich history rooted in Vermont’s rural landscape, primarily found in 19th-century farmhouses.

  • Witch windows are peculiar architectural features found in gable-end walls.
  • These windows are rotated approximately 45 degrees from their vertical position.
  • Witch windows are primarily present in central and northern parts of Vermont.
  • They have a rich history rooted in the rural landscape of Vermont.
  • Witch windows are most commonly seen in 19th-century farmhouses.

“Witch windows provide a unique and intriguing appearance to houses in Vermont’s landscape.”

Origins And Folklore Surrounding Witch Windows

The name “witch window” derives from a captivating folk belief that witches, with their supernatural abilities, cannot fly through tilted windows. However, it is unlikely that this folklore was taken seriously. In addition to this folklore, witch windows are also referred to as “coffin windows,” which may suggest a macabre association with death. They are also known as “sideways” or “lazy windows,” reflecting their unconventional position.

  • The name “witch window” comes from the belief that witches cannot fly through tilted windows.
  • Witch windows are also called “coffin windows” due to their association with death.
  • They are also known as “sideways” or “lazy windows” because of their unconventional position.

“The name ‘witch window’ stems from a fascinating folk belief that witches, with their supernatural abilities, are unable to fly through tilted windows. However, it is unlikely that this folklore was taken seriously.”

Alternative Names And Purpose Of Witch Windows

While the most commonly used term for this unique architectural feature is “witch window”, it is also referred to as “coffin windows” due to their resemblance to coffins when viewed from a certain angle. Another name for these windows is “sideways” or “lazy windows”, reflecting their unusual slanted position.

The construction of witch windows serves two purposes. Firstly, they address the limited wall space in gable-end walls, which often occurs when expanding a house. By rotating the window, both the window area and the incoming light and ventilation are maximized. Secondly, the slanted orientation of these windows allows hot air to escape from the top of the room during summer afternoons, contributing to natural cooling.

  • “Witch windows” is the most commonly used term for this unique architectural feature.
  • Other names include “coffin windows” and “sideways” or “lazy windows”.
  • Witch windows are constructed to address limited wall space in gable-end walls.
  • By rotating the window, both the window area and the incoming light and ventilation are maximized.
  • The slanted orientation of witch windows allows hot air to escape, aiding in natural cooling during summer afternoons.

It is suggested that the slanted orientation of witch windows allows hot air to escape from the top of the room during summer afternoons, aiding in natural cooling.

Benefits And Design Of Witch Windows

Apart from the space-saving advantage, the design of witch windows also serves a functional purpose. The slanted position of these windows aligns with the siding on the wall, making it easier to cut and waterproof the frame-siding joint. This alignment ensures a seamless integration of the window into the overall structure of the house while maintaining its unique aesthetic.

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Furthermore, the rotation of the window not only maximizes natural light and ventilation but also creates an interesting architectural feature that adds character to a home. Its unorthodox placement sparks curiosity and serves as a conversation starter for those who encounter these enchanting windows.

Notable References To Witch Windows In Vermont Architecture

Witch windows have captured the interest of many people, resulting in them being referenced and highlighted in various creative works. One notable reference is the coffee table book titled “On a Vermont Witch’s Window Trail,” which explores the presence of these unique windows in Vermont architecture. This book delves into the history, folklore, and artistic appeal of witch windows, providing an in-depth understanding of their significance in the region.

Additionally, the Weird Window Brewing company in South Burlington, Vermont, has drawn inspiration from witch windows. The company has even incorporated a witch window into its logo, paying homage to this architectural gem that is deeply ingrained in Vermont’s cultural heritage.

In conclusion, witch windows, or Vermont windows, are an intriguing architectural feature found in the gable-end walls of houses in central and northern Vermont. Despite their association with folklore and superstition, these windows serve a practical purpose by maximizing space, light, and ventilation.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a witches window?

The purpose of a witches window, also known as a coffin window, crooked window, lazy window, or Vermont window, is steeped in local lore and belief. According to popular belief, witches are unable to fly diagonally. Therefore, the unique slanted design of a witches window is said to prevent witches from entering a home, acting as a protective measure against their potential mischief. These whimsical windows serve as a testament to the rich folklore and superstition that continue to captivate local communities.

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Are witch windows real?

Yes, witch windows are indeed real and fascinating architectural features. Unique to Vermont and its surrounding areas, these windows allow builders to cleverly insert a full-sized window into the narrow space between two adjacent roof lines where a regular window would not fit. This ingenious technique not only adds a touch of charm and character to the buildings, but also showcases the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the local craftsmen.

What is the window that confuses witches?

The enigmatic window that perplexes witches is none other than the “witch window.” With its intriguing origin, folklore claims that these uniquely tilted windows were designed to foil the flight of witches attempting to enter the house. These architectural oddities, also called “Vermont windows” or “lazy windows,” have sparked curiosity due to their mysterious and blurred origins. As these windows stand at a 45-degree angle, they continue to serve as a testament to the fascinating legends that surround them.

What is the history of witch windows?

Witch windows, also known as Vermont windows or coffin windows, have a fascinating history that has been steeped in folklore and myth. While there are various explanations, one prevailing theory suggests that their name stems from their unique angled design, making it difficult for witches to fly their broomsticks through them. This belief has been passed down through generations, gradually creating a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding these windows.

Despite the lack of concrete evidence to support the witch-related theory, the legend surrounding these windows has persisted over time. Today, witch windows continue to captivate the imagination of those who come across them, serving as a reminder of the enduring power of folklore and the allure of the supernatural. Whether they are truly safeguarding against witches or not, these distinctive windows have become an intriguing part of architectural history.

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