The Witch Window

witch window interiorOnline real estate browsing is a modern-day hobby; and given today’s ease of scrolling through endless pictures of home’s interiors and exteriors we find inspiration, but sometimes images that leave you wondering- what? why?

Unusual architecture can lead to a lesson in how traditions come to be if curious enough to research. One such architectural detail is a window placed at a 45 degree angle in a room. Why would someone ever intentionally choose that and not just opt for a smaller window? With today’s design styles you probably wouldn’t unless the building code required a form of secondary egress, but in older homes and antiques sometimes it was just a means to an end. Enter…the witch window. How apropos with the approaching holiday!

Otherwise known as a Vermont window, this window is usually a double hung sash window that is installed at a gable-end of the house and turned just so it its long side is parallel to the slope of the roof. This allows a full-sized window to fit in between two adjacent rooflines.

witch window exteriorThe etymology speaks to the lore that a witch cannot fly their broomstick through tilted windows. The windows have also been called coffin windows allowing a coffin to be removed from a second floor avoiding the narrow staircase-still trying to figure out how the coffin got up there in the first place!

One explanation for this quirky window is that dorner windows back in the day could leave a room cold which you don’t want in a Vermont winter! And if there was no dormer, adding a window parallel to the roof may have been the only option to add a window at all.


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