Sometimes, working with windows reminds me of working with cars, especially when it comes to names. Saying ‘Window’ is equivalent to saying ‘Ford.’ There are casement windows and Ford Mustangs; double hung windows, single hung windows, Ford F150s and Ford F250s; awning windows, Ford Fiestas, hopper windows, and Ford Rangers. They’re all ‘windows’ and they’re all ‘Fords,’ but the styles are quite different. Then, every once in a while, you run into something that you might not have recognized as a window or a Ford at all. For me, it was the Ford Flex and the Vermont Window.
The first time I saw a Vermont window was pretty recently. It flickered through Facebook, touting itself down the ‘Creepy Facts’ site that I’m subscribed to. Vermont windows are often called by other names—such as Witch windows or Coffin windows. Well, color me intrigued. The windows are named as such due to their unique placement and style. They are often double hung windows that have been installed on an angle fit between two eaves of a house so that they follow the line of the roof. They are more simply called sideways or lazy windows by people who aren’t looking for a scary story.
The name and style of witch window comes from an old folktale that witches can only fly their brooms straight into your home. If the window is slanted the way these windows are, a witch wouldn’t be able to fly in. Though much more unlikely, they were called coffin windows because they may have been used to remove a coffin from the second floor in order to avoid carrying it down a narrow staircase. [It seems to me that passing a coffin out the window and onto the roof would open a whole new set of issues rather than just navigating a staircase.]
However, the truth is a little less exciting. Since these windows are common in Vermont and are still being installed in some new construction homes today, we have a reason that’s not rooted in folklore. A double hung window is installed on an angle along the eaves of the home simply to maximize on the limited space between gables. Doing so not only amplifies the ventilation and light available, but it also removes the need for a custom-sized window.
So, in the end, I have once again been bamboozled by Facebook. It just goes to show you that you can’t believe everything you see online.