Free & Clear (and also witch windows)

Today is the first day of my unemployed, I mean freelance life. Whooo! I am still diligently looking for a full time gig, but in the mean time I’m also hoping to round up some short-term paying projects since there are two cats here to feed and coffee doesn’t grow on trees, as you may have noticed. Well, OK, it sort of does—though they’re more bushes than trees, and that trick only works in equatorial regions, so it amounts to the same thing.

The good news for Catasterist fans is that this means that I’ll have more time for now catch up on the 101 things I’ve emailed to my “Post Me!” folder, starting with this fascinating architectural regionalism: the witch window.

Also known as a Vermont window or, creepily, a coffin window, these funny little creatures are natives of New England—primarily Vermont, New Hampshire, and environs. They are otherwise normal double-hung sash windows placed in the gable-end of a house (the flat, triangular part formed by the slopes of a typical residential roof), but they are hung diagonally to match the slope of the roof. They’re usually found between steps of a multipart roof, as when an addition with a lower or offset roof expands a house, leaving a slice of the gable-end too small for a normal vertical window. They are a kind of alternate to a dormer window (which is tricky to add into an existing roof without compromising the waterproof membrane). A picture will make more sense than all that description:

It’s difficult to get much more information on these oddities, as everyone onilne seems to just refer back to the Wikipedia article, a search of the excellent Field Guide to American Houses comes up empty, and I myself have not been to Vermont. Have you? Or have you seen these elsewhere? If so, let me know below, and I’d love to see a picture if you have one.



This entry was posted on Thursday, September 16th, 2010 and is filed under architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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One Response to “Free & Clear (and also witch windows)”

  1. myntiboos

    Yes, they’re quite the oddity. We called them “Vermont windows” in my childhood, and could spot them in just about any town in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Only later did it occur to me that “Vermont window” could be seen as a pejorative term.