Vermont’s Witch Windows

Driving through the scenic countryside in the state of Vermont, you might see some anomalies in the architecture odd enough to make you do a double take. On the second floors of some older houses, a window appears to have been installed incorrectly — at a 45-degree angle. What was the builder thinking? If the window didn't fit right, why not just put in a smaller one, or why install one at all? Vermonters know these off-kilter windows as "witch windows." The actual reasons for these odd windows are rather practical, but the folklore behind the names is a lot more interesting. According to an old superstition, witches on broomsticks can't fly through angled windows because their broomsticks simply wouldn't fit. Therefore, building an angled window into a home would prevent witches from attempting to enter. in reality, when people added a side wing to their homes, the new addition typically obscured the gable wall. That meant losing a lot of ventilation and light in the rest of the house. Sometimes there wasn't enough room on the outside wall to install a regular window, and putting in a custom-built window wasn't cost-effective. So, in the interest of practicality, some Vermonters installed a regular window and tilted it at a 45-degree angle to make it fit. The tilted window still let in light and homeowners could still open it to allow fresh air into the house. Why this architectural phenomenon is exclusive to Vermont is unknown, but it adds a dash of uniqueness to the landscape and an interesting story for out-of-towners.