These sideways windows are known as “witch windows” in New England because legend has it they keep witches out of your home.

Have you heard of a “witch window”? They’re also called Vermont windows because they’re mostly found on older Vermont homes. They’re most often found in rural houses, with older farmhouses being the prime place someone can expect to find them. They’re portrait style windows where the long part is aligned diagonally with the roof.


There are several competing theories as to why these strange windows are shaped like this and what, if anything, they have to do with witches. The most common witch based theories are as follows: legend has it that witches can’t fly at angles, so the odd shaped window would stop the invading witch. It could have something to do with the window forming a cross-like shape with the roof. Or perhaps it’s because they just can’t fly at that particular angle with their broomsticks. But then why would only one window on the home be angled to keep witches out? There’s nothing in the superstitious stories that sheds light on this question.

There’s another explanation that doesn’t involve witches.The windows are also called “coffin windows.” According to Vermont folklore, dying people would spend their last days in their bedrooms upstairs. Once they passed away, it was difficult for undertakers to move their bodies through hallways and stairwells, so coffin windows were built to get them out of the house faster. But there’s not a lot of supporting evidence for this theory.

Instead, most people think the windows just let in better light and ventilation for attics.

In a similar but almost certainly unrelated example, some Hawaiian homes are built with misaligned doors, which supposedly keep ghosts from wandering from one room to another. So, that’s two US States with weird superstitious architectural legends. Perhaps the other 48 have ones that haven’t been covered?