Perhaps you’ve never seen one in the flesh? Perhaps you’ve NEVER heard of them? Perhaps YOU DON’T believe in witches and their need for windows? Perhaps you have and they have cast their spell on you…
More than likely when you have seen one of these man-made phenomena you were in our home state of Vermont. We have the MOST witch windows in the world. (I MIGHT be exaggerating that statement a tiny amount.) And even more precisely, they are found in the area of Vermont we fondly call the Northeast Kingdom. They have THE MOST, EVER!
But what IS a ‘witch window’ you may be asking yourself?
Witch windows have another name that’s not so Halloween-y, “Vermont Windows”. BUT the crazy back-country, tall-tale-believing New Englanders say themselves, is that these architectural whacky marvels are deeply rooted in Vermont’s super cold temps and SpoOoooOoOOOky superstition/folklore! Now just look at the design. For any broomstick-flying Wiccan, this would be ideal to have in your home! Wonderfully wicked for that super quick getaway when the townspeople come with torches and pitchforks to see if you actually do float in the nearby bog. Or if the progressive townsperson needs a curse on their cheating spouse, ZOOOOOOM-you’re there! And those semi-annual meetings of your coven…when you’re late because you were ALMOST done brewing the local children in your cauldron. A slanted window is ideal for a Witch.
And the creepy names don’t stop there. There is yet ANOTHER name for these quirky design wonders. “Coffin Windows”. Yeah, coffin windows. No wonder this design element stayed in one corner of the world with this kinda PR. EEK!
The tall tale behind this nickname is…well…unnerving. Ok yes..the window is laying down, but that’s not where the lore ends. There was SUPPOSEDLY a purpose for them. 1800’s undertakers would hoist coffins outside and slide them down the slate-shingled roofs, instead of lugging the deceased down the narrow, ornate windy staircases. Yeah, I had the same thought. HOW did the coffin get up there anyhow? A workshop in his home? The calling hours were often in the home…Who knows? But whatever the ‘reason’…the nickname stuck to these windows.
BUT the real reason these “Vermont windows” exist is because of good ol’ Yankee ingenuity and frugality. Vermonters are recyclers. Our blood is GREEN. We re-purpose/ reuse and recycle EVERYTHING we can. We were GREEN before it was trendy. So ya know, Harold down the road, he had an old window left over from his recent build, by gum! Let’s USE IT. Vermonters are also known for building addition after addition, after addition. Especially after the 5 or 9th child was born (remember large farm families?). So…with the loss of wall space, it was bound to happen. The only place for an upper-floor window would have to be kinda horizontal. KINDA. GENIUS right? Without it, light and ventilation would be completely limited.
Did I say Vermonters are frugal? Not many of us have AC. Yeah, read that again. NO air conditioning units in our homes. And most of us play the game every year “How long do we hold out before we turn on the heat/start the first fire?”
We know FUN, I tell ya!
And in the Summer, my mother would just open the windows across our home to get the cross breeze flowing on those HOT August days. And Witch windows are GREAT as a 2nd story vent! Just crack open that weird 45 degree sideways window and feel the coolness. It could be the ghosts awaiting the return of their coffins…or really it’s JUST a breeze. Keep telling yourself that. *wink*
When our customers say they have tricky windows to shade, we giggle to ourselves. Because here in Vermont, we’ve seen it all. We can shade “Witch” Windows, “Vermont” Windows, and even “Coffin” Windows and even your wonky windows.
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