Making the second home the permanent address
by Karen Derr
Photos by Yvonne Feece
When Connie Moore and Debbie Hunt bought their home in Galveston’s historic Silk Stocking District in 1996, Realtor David Bowers predicted they’d be living on the island full-time within five years. Five years later, almost to the day, the couple made the decision to rent out their Houston condo and commute to work from Galveston.
“We had looked at second homes up in the East Texas piney woods. We both like pine forests rather than hill country, but it was hard to think about it being two and a half hours away,” remembers Connie. “We visited friends in Galveston for a weekend and just had a blast at a party in a lovely historic home, and I thought ‘I could do this instead of the piney woods.’ It’s only an hour away!”
They started their home search and one evening, just before dark, they took a walk through the Silk Stocking District. “We felt comfortable walking at dark, and that was important to us,” recalls Debbie. The couple sat on the porch swing of their future home, and it just felt right. House Company Realtor David Bowers ended up being their Realtor and their neighbor on the trolley route that is also the Mardi Gras parade route.
Although the couple takes friends and grandkids to the beach, and they walk on the seawall, they insist they’re not beach people. And they aren’t in a Mardi Gras krew, even though the parades go right in front of their home. While they haven’t planned a Mardi Gras party in years, they sometimes end up with 100 people at their house during Mardi Gras. This could be due to the fact that the ladies added a 20-person heated cocktail pool in 2001 with jets and benches all around. Or perhaps friends are drawn to the couple because they are both attorneys who commute to Houston, yet they appear so relaxed and are such an interesting pair (both are also artists and musicians). Connie brags that Debbie made the stained-glass windows in the popular downtown Galveston bar 3rd Coast. Debbie corrects Connie by saying she only assembled the windows that Connie actually designed. Both of them play in the Pride Parade Band.
The decision to live full-time in Galveston and commute to work came in 2001 after Debbie’s last treatment for ovarian cancer. It was a time to look hard at their priorities. Connie didn’t want to put off island life until retirement, not knowing how long they’d get to enjoy it together. Her father had passed away shortly after his own retirement. They became full-time islanders in 2001 when, as Connie says, their weekends were beginning to get longer and longer. In 2004 they did a major addition of a new kitchen and master bedroom. All the additions were at the back of the house so the historic features of the home were not disturbed. Located well behind the seawall, the home did not take on water during Ike in 2008. They count themselves lucky in many ways.
Regarding LGBT life on the island, Connie and Debbie laugh when asked if they know every gay couple in Galveston. They admit that they run in a pack of dear friends and neighbors—a pack made up of as many straight couples as gay, who drink and eat out with the locals and support local theater. “We love our neighbors. It’s such a live-and-let-live atmosphere, and so laid-back,” Connie waxes sentimental about her home that is so much more than a house to live in. Debbie adds, more practically, that work was always a little too close when they lived in Houston, just 10 minutes from their condo.
“It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you cross that causeway. Things just melt away,” Connie confides wistfully as she sits in the couple’s shared Montrose law office. What’s hard is not being jealous of the life Connie and Debbie have made for themselves, as they like to say, on an island near Texas.
Karen Derr, a Houston-area Realtor for over 20 years, writes and speaks about home and small-business topics.
Sidebar: Debbie and Connie’s Galveston Faves
• Favorite place to take visitors: Sunflower Bakery or Olympia Grill at Pier 21.
• Favorite place to eat out when it’s just the two of them: the Original Mexican Restaurant or 901 Postoffice Restaurant.
• Favorite nightspot: 3rd Coast.
• Favorite place to watch the sunset: their own front porch.
• Favorite place to watch the sunrise: the seawall.