During Hurricane Ike five years ago, Kay Davis evacuated, but her husband, Ben, stayed behind to herd floating antiques as their island home on LeBrun Court filled with more than 2 feet of water.
Since its construction in 1973, the house has undergone two major renovations; the first in 1983 after the roof was torn off by a tornado during Hurricane Alicia; the second after Hurricane Ike.
Losing your home to a natural disaster is traumatic, sad and even demoralizing, Kay Davis said. But you forge ahead, she said.
“Those of us who have sand in our blood, pull up our socks and get going,” she said.
Come hell or high water, the Davises, both third generation Galvestonians who first met in junior high school, aren’t going anywhere.
Their one-story, brick house was the first built on its peninsula in Havre Lafitte. The Davises had their pick of the lots on the track of land owned by her father, John Duke Winchester, who developed the community with Stephen Lewis and Ed Henderson.
After Hurricane Alicia, dark wood paneling in the living room was ripped out to make way for a light, bright interior. The living room has a classic coffered ceiling and was tiled in travertine after Hurricane Ike.
“We had carpet originally, that awful shag in gold and green, but it became a sunken cesspool when the roof came off,” Kay Davis said. “After Ike, it once again became a cesspool, so I said ‘We’re not having carpet of any variety.’”
In the living room, a curvy antique sofa reupholstered in chic — and durable — velvet, faces one of the remaining features of the original house — a fireplace with a brick facade.
To the left of the living room, an airy sun porch, or loggia, looks onto the backyard, which is set with furniture the color of key lime pie and plays host to visiting butterflies and egrets.
“You never know what you’re going to see out there,” Davis said.
With its view, the loggia is the couple’s main “hang out.” It’s where they have breakfast in the morning or coffee and it’s the gathering spot for Kay’s mah-jongg group. Aside from its entertaining potential, the loggia connects the original structure of the main house to the addition, a mother-in-law suite, built after Hurricane Alicia for Kay’s mother, Ann Olsen Winchester.
Until she moved, Winchester lived in her home at 1617 Ball St. Much of the furniture from the East End house was used to decorate the mother-in-law suite.
“She brought everything that she treasured with her,” Davis said.
Though it’s structurally connected to the house, the addition feels like a separate dwelling because of its position at the back of the house.
“When she wanted to get away from me or the boys, she could just go back and retreat to her own abode,” Davis said. “I’m glad we got to have that time, because she got to see my boys as they were growing up.”
Since her mother passed away, the suite has taken on new identities.
“It was the pool room for my boys when they were in high school,” Davis said.
Now, it’s the “Blues Brothers Suite,” named for the fiberglass likenesses of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd seated on either side of the living space.
The main house has three bedrooms — the master, a guest room named the “Queen Ann Suite,” for Kay’s mother, and a third that was converted into a breakfast room after the Davises’ sons left for college. Between the Queen Ann Suite and the breakfast room, a four-piece bathroom boasts a shower tiled in rain forest marble. The sink is awash in pinkish granite, which picks up hues from a painting Davis made while studying art at the University of Texas. The painting is inspired by the “The Song of the Lorelei.”
Painting is perhaps a talent inherited from her mother or grandmother — three generations of paintings of flowers and portraits line the walls throughout the house.
One particularly special piece not by a member of the family — a lithograph by Marc Chagall — hangs in the breakfast room.