why is it called a witch window

Still, Vermonters love them, as they show off the ingenuity of the state’s residents. We love a witch with a sense of humor, although the Harry Potter films might not be the most accurate representation of real witches. That’s a believable explanation, and it fits with the likely purpose of the windows. Some people find them oddly beautiful; to others, they’re simply odd. The windows are typically found on old farmhouses that have been expanded at some point in the past. When they passed on, the undertakers would have to move their bodies, but narrow hallways and staircases made this a difficult feat. So why call them witch windows instead of, say, a more literal term like “gable window” or, metaphorically, “penny pinchers” or the like? Some people call them Vermont windows after the state where they’re most commonly found. New England bound? But one of the strangest aspects of Vermont windows is their alternate name: witch windows. Turns out that there’s a good explanation for them -- as well as a number of really fun theories about why these windows exist in the first place! For some reason, they’re either unable or unwilling to fly at an angle. Spooky. Due to changing advisories, please check local travel guidelines before visiting. When you see a witch window, you might just think that the person who installed it was a little tipsy at the time. It’s a rectangular, double-hung sash window at the gable-end wall of a house, tilted 45 degrees so its long end runs parallel to the roof slope. Reporter Alex Hirsch decided to press the issue, asking Baez whether witches could fly sideways. It might also be because witches simply aren’t great at flying at strange angles on their broomsticks. There were many benefits to adding a small window to a second story extension, including ventilation and releasing hot air during the summer. Realtors often refer to them as “Vermont windows,” since they’re primarily found—you guessed it—on older Vermont homes. If your home has witch windows, don’t worry; they’re perfectly functional, and they shouldn’t diminish the value of your property. If you’re keen on seeing them, the highest concentration of witch windows is in the rural areas of north-central Vermont that are speckled with 19th-century farmhouses. After a carpenter built his home, he realized how hot it was during the summer months in the upstairs rooms. That left homeowners with the small wall space at the gable end of the house. While it can be called many things, a witch window nearly always looks the same. The Practice Of Firing A Purposefully Inaccurate Shot In A Pistol Duel Is Known As? By submitting your email, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler. Therefore, building an angled window into a home would prevent witches from attempting to enter. We hate it when common sense ruins a good architectural legend. When you see a witch window, you might just think that the person who installed it was a little tipsy at the time. But their most common moniker, witch windows, is the best of all. “The ‘witch windows’ are very common in Vermont,” Wheeler says. And, as Harry Potter fans can attest, not only can witches easily manipulate their flying to pass through any kind of opening, they’re also clever and inventive. An employee of Vermont’s Division of Historic Preservation brought up more compelling point in an interview with Vermont Public Radio: If Vermont builders actually believed the superstition, why wouldn’t they angle every window in the house? Additionally, many older Vermont homes have gone through regular renovations and additions, so space is at a premium. According to Kathryn Eddy of The Barre Montpelier Times Argus, the windows proved popular with Vermont homeowners for several reasons. To find out, we asked architectural historian Walter Wheeler. Just be sure to lock them up at night to avoid visits from lopsided witches. Vermont windows are normal portrait-style windows, but they’re angled diagonally or horizontally so that the long edge of the window is parallel to the roof line. (We're not sure why the witches couldn't just turn sideways, but that's not for us to know.) Northern Vermont’s forest explodes with gorgeous color in October, providing the perfect backdrop for a little witch window hunting. “Add it to the extensive list of reasons why Vermonters deserve their practical reputation and were going green long before it was the trend to do so,” Eddy wrote. “That is because they are a typical solution to the need to get light in a second floor bedroom in a one or one-and-a-half story house that has an attached wing. That leaves us with explanations that are much more pragmatic. The argument goes something like this: It was much easier to remove a deceased family member’s body for burial by sliding the coffin through the tilted upstairs window than trying to maneuver it down the stairs. The name comes from an old superstition that witches can’t fly through crooked windows—why exactly a person clever enough to master the dark arts and fly on a broom wouldn’t be clever enough to just lean to the left a bit while zipping in is a matter of debate for another day. It’s the only way to get a window of good size in the wall between the roof of the wing and that of the main part of the house. The alternative would be to make dormer windows, but that solution wasn’t favored among Vermonters.”. The reasoning behind this is that their broomsticks simply wouldn't fit. The Oldest Known Shipwreck Is Only Identifiable By What Cargo Type? “The ‘witch windows’ are very common in Vermont,” Wheeler says. Because the installation of dormer windows was a greater expense, required ripping a hole in the roof, and necessitated additional construction, people would take a regular window (often one removed from the very wall where the expansion had been added on) and place it, rotated to fit, in the space above the new roof line, but below the old one on the gable end. While charming, this theory has a number of holes in it. Beautiful Virginia Beach: The Best Places To Eat, Stay, And Play, 5 Best Things To Do In Lake Tahoe In The Winter, 12 Wonderfully Warm Places To Visit In March, How To Spend The Perfect Weekend In Charming Quechee, Vermont, 7 Reasons To Fall In Love With Killington, Vermont, 8 Best Vermont Ski Resorts For Every Level And Interest, 7 Fantastic Food Finds In St. Paul, Minnesota, 9 Best Things To Do In Beautiful Marble Falls, TX, 10 Quaint Towns You Must Visit In The Hudson Valley, For details on Gateway Blend's privacy and cookie policies, please visit our, nine wonderfully quaint bed and breakfasts in New England. According to Vermont folklore, dying people would often spend their last days in their bedrooms, which typically were in the upper stories of their homes. He cut holes and installed windows at an angle on the gable ends. In the 19th century, farmhouses often began quite small and expanded in size as families grew and farms prospered. Or maybe it’s due to some sort of technical issue with broomstick engineering (we’re pretty sure that Bewitched covered that at some point). Perhaps the strange look is a hard sell—or perhaps the more impressive appearance of dormer windows led to the Vermont window’s obsolescence. Which Of These Animals Plays The Most Significant Role In The Seeding Of North American Forests? The witch window is also known as a Vermont window. That term comes with a theory of its own, and it’s slightly more believable because it doesn’t involve anything supernatural. Alas, it’s hard to say if it’s any easier to handle a coffin on a slanted roofline than it is to make your way down steep stairs with one. Then again…well, witches aren’t real. People in other states usually aren’t aware of the existence of Vermont windows, and they can be a jarring sight, at least at first. © 2020 Multiply Media, LLC. No slanted window would deter them! Even forgiving those obvious issues, there’s another problem: Undertakers are under no obligation to put bodies into caskets before moving them, so why wouldn’t they simply move the bodies, sans casket? In a world where windows are nearly always hung straight and parallel with the horizon, it’s disorienting to see one installed at an angle. While a witch’s attempt to enter a home might be thwarted by a tilted window, there’s nothing stopping one from entering through any of the other normal windows in the house. All rights reserved. Which Of These U.S. States Is Known For An Architectural Detail Called A “Witch Window”? All Rights Reserved. I don’t think you could stop a witch from going through a slanted window unless they were overweight like me.”. The Facebook “Like” Button Was Originally Known As? “If you watch Harry Potter and they play Quidditch they go in every which way direction,” Baez insisted. Sadly, there’s no evidence that anyone ever truly believed the witch superstition, even if the etymology comes with an irresistible story. If your home has the windows and you hire contractors, you’ll also want to make sure they’ve worked with diagonally oriented windows before (and make sure that they’re not witches, just in case they need to enter your home). Another theory that’s along the spooky lines is that the windows are actually coffin windows. Where does the terminology come from—and what’s the proper term for this architectural oddity? Ghosts, it seems, are incapable of walking in diagonal lines, so maybe witches have the same problem. That may be because the windows form a cross-like angle with the roofline.

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