Exeter Deconstructed: Gould House graffiti

The school we love in detail.

July 26, 2023

Some Exeter traditions are born by decree and are celebrated with pomp. Others come to be on a whim and are carried on with a Sharpie.

In the cozy basement common room/kitchen of Gould House, beside the toaster oven and the refrigerator, a quiet custom turned 25 years old this spring. Painted on a wall is a fierce lion rampant, the big, red cat now tattooed with the names of a quarter-century of Exeter alumni. The lion was painted by Gould resident Thayer Vogt ’98 during his senior year. The names have been scrawled by every graduating resident since.

Gould House is home to 11 students spanning four grades, so each year, only a few seniors carry on the custom. This June, class of 2023 graduates Alia Bonanno, Kaitlin Clark and Alysha Lai added their names to the wall. In 1998, however, nine residents — Vogt, Troy Coady, Lucas Homicz, Jonathan Man, Marc McDonald, A.J. McGuire, Jared Moore, Brian Porter and Paul Reuland — were graduating from the Academy. Each wrote his name into history.

“I don’t think Thayer (or any of the Gould House residents) thought it would become an annual tradition,” Reuland told the Bulletin in an email. “I am not sure what motivated Thayer to paint the lion. It could have been that he wanted to literally leave his mark on Exeter and the Gould House, or he may have done it on a whim because he was tired of looking at a blank white wall when hanging out in the basement. Either way, I am glad to hear that the lion is still there and that it has become an annual tradition for the graduating class to sign their names.”  

— Patrick Garrity

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the summer 2023 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.