Davenport College was first completed in 1933, in a mainly Georgian style but with a gothic facade. Like many of Yale’s residential colleges, Davenport was designed by James Gamble Rogers. The college was named for John Davenport, who founded Yale’s home city of New Haven, Connecticut. An extensive renovation of the college’s buildings occurred during the 2004-2005 academic year as part of Yale’s comprehensive building renovation project. Separating the two main courtyards is the Crosspiece, a north-south component of the Davenport-Pierson complex which serves as the administrative heart of Davenport College, housing the College Offices and a classroom space as well as carrels and reading rooms extending from the college’s Spitzer Library. The Dining Hall features light broad-wood floors, ornately carved wooden wall details and a coffered, barrel-vaulted ceiling from which hangs Davenport’s piece de resistance, an elegant Waterford Crystal chandelier.
For a while after Davenport College’s inception into the Yale residential college system, students were known as “Hybrids,” a reference to the hybrid style of the college’s architecture. While the nickname appeared in a few official publications in the 1970s, it was no longer used by either Davenporters or their rivals. Davenport students were without a title or figure to rally behind. 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.