Architectural Anomalies: The Crooked Witch-Proofed Windows of Vermont

Why do so many houses in Vermont have these strange crooked windows tucked under their eaves? The fact that they’re called ‘witch windows’ should tell you a little something about their origins. The site of only one witch trial in its day, Vermont wasn’t an epicenter of witchcraft hysteria like Massachusetts, but fears of supernatural trickery were strong enough to influence an architectural trend that carries on into the 21st century.

Witch Window

if you just see one of them and don’t know about the phenomenon, you may think you’ve spotted a bizarre renovation fail, but they’re set this way on purpose. Made with conventional portrait-style windows, they’re simply set into the wall at a diagonal. The reasoning? According to legend, witches can’t fly in on their broomsticks when the window isn’t straight. Hoping not to scare off potential buyers, realtors in the state have taken to calling them ‘Vermont Windows.’

As URBO notes, an employee of Vermont’s Division of Historic Preservation made a salient point: why not angle all of the windows? If the builders who first included ‘witch windows’ in Vermont houses really believed the superstition, why would they think witches bent on entering the homes of strangers wouldn’t just pick a different window? The answer may be that nobody ever truly bought that witches were a real problem in the first place, and the anomaly caught on simply because it’s a fun local tradition.

You can get an idea of just how prevalent this trend is in Vermont by checking out the #witchwindow tag on Instagram.