image courtesy of onlyinyourstate.com
Here in Vermont, OF COURSE we have!
They are sprinkled all over the green mountain state, with a higher concentration in what we fondly call the Northeast Kingdom! (NEK to us locals)
Perhaps, you’ve never heard of them. Or you lived in a house that had one, and it scared the bejeezus outta you, so you made your sibling take that room. OR YOU DON’T believe in witches and their need for windows?
Here’s a FUN fact to drop at your next cocktail party:
Vermont has the MOST Witch windows in the world. (*GASP* I know, right?)
“Wow I didn’t know that!”, exclaims your unsuspecting party guests.
‘Yes, EcoSmart Shades made me smarter.’
You’re welcome. *wink*
Annywhooo…Ok, so the fable behind the nickname of ‘Coffin’ window is…well…not to mince words, creepy. Yes, just look at it, those lackadaisical panes of glass are laying down. Hence the other moniker, ‘Lazy’ window. But that’s not where the lore ends. There was supposedly a true, and unnerving purpose for them.
image courtesy of obscurevermont.com
The undertakers of the 1800’s supposedly would hoist coffins outside and slide them down the slate-shingled roofs, instead of lugging the very heavy coffin filled with deceased, down the very narrow, ornate, windy staircases.
Yeah, I had the same thought.
HOW did the coffin get up there anyhow?
Was there a workshop in the home? Who puts a woodworking workshop on the second level? What about all that sawdust?
Anywhoooo, calling hours were often in the home of the family…so that part makes sense, but for whatever reason…the nickname stuck.
image courtesy of onlyinyourstate.com
And the creepy nicknames don’t stop there.
There is yet another name for these quirky design wonders, which is the most common, “Witch Windows”.
Yeah, WITCH windows.
I can see why ‘coffin’ was used to describe them, but WITCH? No wonder this design element never caught on and kinda stayed put in our little corner of the world. (get it? little corner of the world) EEK!
Ok let us weave you a web of witchy wonderment….the rural lore, tall-tale-telling New Englanders say these architectural whacky wonders are deeply rooted in Vermont’s super cold temps and SpoOoooOoOOOky superstition/folklore!
(Witch windows have another name that’s not so Halloween-y, “Vermont Windows”).
Now just look at it for a moment. Imagine for a minute you’re a broomstick-flying Wiccan.
It would be a must have design detail 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, hop on your broom, and ZOOOOOOM- right outta your custom Witch window!!
And those semi-annual meetings of your coven…just think, if you’re running a wee bit late, because you were ALMOST done brewing the local children in your cauldron. A slanted window is ideal for a Witch. There is no need to dismount before landing. Genius.
courtesy of one of our very own Shade Gurus
Oh yeah, there’s even a coffee table book all about these Witch-y wonders…
BUT the real reason these “Vermont windows” exist is because of good ol’ Yankee ingenuity and frugality.
Vermonters have been GREEN before it was cool.
Vermonters are natural-innate recyclers. Our blood runs GREEN. We re-purpose/reuse and recycle EVERYTHING we can. “Ya know, Wendell? Lives upside the road a piece? Well, jezzum crow! He got an ol’ window left over from his recent add on, it’s in his door yard. Wendell said we can use it.”
Vermonters are also known for building addition after addition, after addition. Especially after the 5th or 9th child was born (remember, a state of 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. WICKED smaahhht.
image courtesy of atlas obscura.
Did we say Vermonters are frugal?
Ok, personally, my father would use old bread bags in his not-so-water-tight galoshes, before he would dare buy new.
And get this…not many of us have those fancy contraptions called an Air Conditioners. Yeah, read that again. NO air conditioning units in many of our homes.
(And I can safely say ALL of us play the ‘game’ every year “How long do we hold out before we turn on the heat/start the first fire?”)
And Witch windows are GREAT as a 2nd story vent! Just crack open that weirdly wonderful 45 degree window and feel the coolness. That breeze could be the ghosts awaiting the return of their coffins, or a Witch coming in for a landing…or really it’s just a breeze.
Tell yourself anything that helps you sleep at night. *wink*
Well, whatever you call these beauts, they’re a part of the Vermont fabric, that makes us so wonderfully weird.
And when our customers say they have tricky windows to shade, we giggle to ourselves. Because here in Vermont, we’ve seen it all.
We have shaded ‘Witch’ windows, ‘Vermont’ windows, ‘Lazy’ windows even ‘Coffin’ windows.
They don’t spook us.
Talk to our Shade gurus today. They’re wickedly wonderfully smart. EcoSmart.