Why Are Slanted Windows Popular in Vermont?

About 140 years after a wave of murderous hysteria spread through colonial Massachusetts, culminating in the Salem witch trials of 1692, witches were apparently still a concern in nearby Vermont. That’s why you’ll find many Vermont homes from the 1830s with odd-looking windows on the second floor, installed at a 45-degree angle to match the roofline. According to superstition, witches can’t fly in through an angled window -- their broomsticks won’t fit -- so some Vermont homeowners added a so-called "witch window" as an extra precaution towards keeping them out.

Also known as "coffin windows" in Vermont folklore, these off-kilter windows might also have been added so that 19th-century undertakers could remove coffins more easily, rather than navigating down the narrow, winding staircases of the day.

Which window is witch?

  • Witch windows are most common in the central and northern parts of Vermont.

  • Depending on who you ask, these quirky windows are also called Vermont windows, sideways windows, or lazy windows.

  • Some say these windows were originally designed to function as vents, giving rising hot air a place to escape during the summer. But the average summer temperature in Vermont is just 67.8 degrees Fahrenheit (19.9 degrees Celsius), so maybe not.

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