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Davenport was the name of a series of sofas made by the Massachusetts furniture manufacturer A. H. Davenport and Company, now defunct. Due to the popularity of the furniture at the time, the name davenport became a genericized trademark, like aspirin.
It is often used as a synonym for "sofa", especially in the Midwestern United States and in northern New York state. Specifically, it is used in the Adirondack Region and the Tug Hill Plateau, especially amongst those born there before World War II. The so-called Davenports of the northern New York region are often locally made sofa versions of the locally manufactured convertible Adirondack chair.
Among the younger generations, the word has come to mean a more formal sofa. In the Tug Hill and Adirondack regions in New York, a Davenport may refer especially to a couch which, like a modern futon lounge, converts on pivoting hinges from a sofa to a bed.
In other areas of North America, the word Davenport is used for a futon style sofa with storage under the seat area.
A similar word, Daveno, also refers to a sofa or couch. The term was more widely used in the 50s and 60s, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.
In popular culture
- On many old-time radio shows from the 1940s, such as Fibber McGee and Molly and Vic and Sade, characters are frequently depicted retiring, resting, sewing, and doing other activities "on the davenport".
- In a 1952 episode of the Three Stooges, "Corny Casanovas," the Stooges attempt to re-upholster a davenport. Shemp says, "As soon as we get this davenport re-covered, the place will be more 'presentimental' to the new 'bribes'" (meaning "brides").
- In the 1961 film adaptation of the play A Majority of One, Rosalind Russell's character uses her "baby blue" davenport as an example in a conversation to help out her son-in-law and the business partner he is attempting to impress. Later in the film, you get to see the davenport—baby blue as described.
- The Warren Zevon song "Disorder in the House" features the line "I'm sprawled across the davenport of despair."
- The Boston chapter of the Robert Benchley Society is named "We've Come for the Davenport", from a reference to an incident in the life of Robert Benchley as recorded in his biography by Nathaniel Benchley.
- In Wayne's World, Noah Vanderhoff describes Wayne's World as being "Two chimps on a davenport in a basement".
- The American improvisational jazz trio Happy Apple entitled a track "Mom got a new Davenport" on their album part of the solutionproblem. The track is sixteen minutes in length and may be interpreted to have no concrete reference to the davenport, hide-a-bed style sofa.
- The comic, Knights of the Dinner Table mentions a green davenport during an homage to Richard Aronson's Tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo.
- In the Family Guy episode "Brian's Got a Brand New Bag", the davenport is referenced by Brian's love interest, Rita. Rita breaks the relationship with Brian and asks him to leave her key on the davenport. Brian is confused and puts the key on several different pieces of furniture – none of which match the furniture Rita mentions (a Chesterfield, divan, and chifforobe); exasperated, Brian gives up and leaves. This scene's humor highlights the age gap between young Brian and the older Rita.
- In Cedar Rapids, ASMI president Orin Helgesson (Kurtwood Smith) invites insurance agent Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) to "have a seat on the davenport".
- Robert Benchley, a Biography (1955), Nathaniel Benchley, page 38.
- "Knights of the Dinner Table Webstrips (archive)". Kenzer and Company. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- The dictionary definition of davenport at Wiktionary