If you’ve ever been to Vermont (I hear it’s beautiful in the winter – all that snow), you might have noticed the strange, cockeyed windows on the upper levels of the state’s older homes. And even though realtors refer to them as “Vermont Windows,” the locals have a kitschier name for them: Witch Windows.
Witch Windows are normal sized portrait windows, but they’re angled so that the long edge of the window is parallel with the roofline. Which, if you’re not from the area, you might mistake for shoddy building, or a miscalculation of some sort. They’re not, though.
The unique windows are intentional, but, sadly, not to make flying home easier. So why are they constructed like that?
It turns out that the custom is so old that no one really knows the answer with 100% certainty.
One (perhaps equally odd) theory comes from to the people who refer to them as Coffin Windows. This time, it’s exactly the reason it sounds like it should be – to accommodate the removal of a person’s remains from the upper levels of a house (where bedrooms typically are) when stairways and hallways are too narrow.
This theory doesn’t make a ton of sense, given that passing a coffin holding dead weight out of a second story window onto the roof can’t possibly be any easier than squeezing it down the stairs. I mean, seriously.
The consensus seems to be that the reason behind them is quite mundane: the windows maximize both light and ventilation on stuffy upper floors. There’s also the chance that a builder decided to rotate a window at some point in order to maximize space (or to avoid having to order a custom size) and the design became popular. The fact that they never caught on anywhere else in the country is just another part of the mystery.
Any of these seem more likely than making space for witches, but none of them are as much fun. So carry on, Vermont-ers, with making non-locals believe you’re all magical. I approve.