The Davenport Gnome is the mascot for Davenport College, (aka, “D’Port”) one of the twelve residential colleges of Yale University located in New Haven, Connecticut. Students on campus wear t-shirts that proclaim, “Let’s Gnome It!”
“In 1998, then junior Thomas Shaw, upon returning from a semester of mountaineering, brought back from the California Redwood country a five-and-a-half foot tall, several hundred pound carved wooden gnome as a gift to the college. The gnome, with its green painted shirt and yellow pants, quickly developed a following in the Davenport community, and was soon proudly adopted as the college’s official mascot.” – Davenport College
Initially placed in the college’s courtyard, the Davenport Gnome (considered “an all-encompassing symbol for the spirit that is Davenport”) became the target of repeated thefts by students from Pierson College, a rival place of learning.
During the 2005-2006 school year, the gnome was relocated to the entrance of the administrative offices in Crosspiece and later moved to the Davenport Dining Hall near the juice dispenser.
In 2010, the gnome was stolen from Davenport’s dining hall early one Wednesday morning. The suspects — six to eight students from Davenport’s rival dorm, Pierson — then placed the gigantic gnome on a rooftop at Pierson College. In response to the gnome’s kidnapping Davenport spammed Pierson’s E-mailing list demanding the gnome’s safe return. Within 15 minutes Pierson’s E-mail service crashed.
As for avenging the kidnapping, one student told a Yale Daily News reporter, “I don’t know if anything is going to happen…Our dining hall staff is really upset and wants us to do something….If we did anything, it wouldn’t be a big deal. We wouldn’t steal anything from Pierson because there’s nothing to steal there.”
In April 2011, Davenport students thwarted another attempt by Pierson College to steal the gnome. A victory e-mail sent to the campus community reported the “Davenport Department of Gnomeland Security responded to reports of an attempted heist perpetrated by a band of Piersonites. The victim was Davenport’s gnome, and a ‘team of crack gnome commandos’ led by Daniel Zelaya ’13 arrived at the scene and prevented the gnome’s removal.”
NOTE: Davenport college was named for John Davenport, who founded Yale’s home city of New Haven, Connecticut. Yale Daily News calls Davenport College, Yale’s most popular dorm. Davenport boasts William F. Buckley Jr., Thornton Wilder, Sam Power, and two Presidents among its alumni.
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Davenport College (Website)