If you see a house with a fenced-off area on it’s highest point – this is what it means

Homes in older years used to have features that we no longer have a use for. Now, it seems some people have even forgotten what some of those features could mean.

This person turned to the internet to ask an interesting question. After seeing so many of these fenced-off rooftop areas, they asked the internet what their original intended use was. The answer is surprising. Keep reading to find out more.

Reddit user was enjoying the different sights and sounds in a new city on their travels when they realized something. Many of the houses they came across had a peculiar feature they could not figure out.

The feature seemed to serve no purpose to them and, hence, left them scratching their heads. As many people do these days, they decided to turn to the internet for help to figure out what this peculiar feature could be. They were in Oslo, Norway, and mentioned this in case the feature was location-specific.


But it turned out it wasn’t! As soon as they posted the picture, the replies began rolling in, with some people recognizing the architectural feature and talking about their desire to have one, too. One user named Realsalmineo commented, “I have always wanted a house with one of these. They are common on Victorian houses in Oregon, Washington, and California, too.”

The common theme for houses with this feature seemed to be that they were all located near water, user nana1960 added having seen this feature on “A few houses in Evansville, Indiana along the Ohio River.” They went on to add who owned those homes, “former river captains’ houses”


Then user EdgarJNormal replied with the answer, “Widow’s Walk- the idea/legend/story was that the wife of a ship’s captain would wait, looking for her husband’s ship to return. Since it was the highest point, she would be able to view the sails on the horizon first.”

It seems the ‘widow’s walk’ feature existed in homes to let the wives or families of men out at sea be able to spot their ship first. Having a vantage point from high up would enable to see them out at water before anyone else and perhaps be able to recognize the sail of their husband’s or family members ship. All in all, it would enable them to ascertain their safe return home from sea.


Since Oslo, Norway, is surrounded by water, it is no surprise that the original poster saw so many homes there with this particular design. In this day and age, with high-tech navigation systems and the ability to communicate with those on land while you are at sea eliminates the need for such a feature and has rendered it obsolete. But older homes still carry their signs! How amazing!

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