If you’ve ever been in New England checking out the local architecture you might have noticed some odd sideways windows in some of the older homes. These are known as witch windows. Let’s take a look at these atypical windows including the benefits of them and why there are installed in homes.

What is a Witch Window?

A witch window is placed at the end of a gabled wall on a house, the window is rotated to 45 degrees making it diagonal and running parallel to the roof slope. Witch windows are designed to get a window into a spot where traditional windows or dormers would not fit properly.

They are nicknamed witch windows because it is said that witches cannot fly through the angled windows on their broomsticks, a leftover superstition of New England. These windows are often called by other names such as a “coffin window” due to their shape or the superstition that you would put a coffin through the window if you couldn’t get it down to the first floor. They have also been known as lazy windows, sideways windows or simply Vermont windows as Vermont is one of the only states that has a high number of these types of windows. Witch windows are traditionally found on much older farmhouses.

Why Do They Install Witch Windows

One of the main reasons for witch windows is the climate in Vermont. Vermont has very cold, bitter winters and many traditional dormer winters let in too much of a draft in the winter. The witch window is the compromise to provide sunlight and a window into a room without letting too much cold air seep into the home. Basically, it’s the only type of window that can be installed in these oddly shaped gabled walls.

The angled placement of a window might sometimes create problems in properly matching and installing siding so many homeowners choose to make the siding run parallel to the witch window. This placement is much simpler to install and gives the home great character.

Witch windows are increasingly rare as the types of homes being built have evolved. Head up to Vermont to get your best chance at seeing one of these witch windows.