A 1952 fish camp evolves into a modern retreat
Bliss-filled childhood memories have transitioned into happy grown-up realities for Galveston resident Carolyn Gaido at her upscale Sportsman Road retreat known as Camp Gucci.
With its panoramic views of the island’s West Bay area, Gaido’s high-raised home is a modern reminder of the happy days she spent as a young girl at her uncle’s rustic camp that, in its time, would have been only a few hundred yards away.
“I grew up on this road,” Gaido said. “It was very special, and we children loved coming down here. The men enjoyed their time here, too, and we had a lot of fun. It was very primitive, however, and the women didn’t care for it at all — the living conditions were just too rough.”
Today, the rustic fishing and hunting camps that once defined Sportsman Road and gave it its name are gone, and Gaido’s home-away-from-home hideaway is cozy and comfortable with the latest in modern amenities. More importantly, however, it also serves as an upbeat bayside retreat where she is now creating memorable experiences for her own children and grandchildren.
“The water, the sky, the sea birds — everything here is exciting for them,” she said. “One son even chose to get married here, and the grandchildren are so fond of it, they now call me ‘Grandmother Gucci.’”
The home pays homage to its coastal location through both design and décor. Built as a fish camp in 1952, it had been enlarged and updated several times before being bought in 1999 by Gaido and Jon “Rusty” Eversberg. When Hurricane Ike rolled through the area in 2008, it set the stage for even more reworking for greater storm-resistance and also changed some of the décor.
Gaido points to a weathered bronze sculpture titled “Sandpiper Flash” that occupies a place of honor above a fireplace that was added post-Ike.
“As we were rushing around preparing for the storm, that piece was left sitting on the coffee table,” Gaido said. “We never imagined conditions would get so severe, but the patina you see on the birds was not part of the original design, but a result of its being inundated by salt water spray.”
Other items throughout the home provide similarly compelling stories. A long, harvest-style dining table was custom made from vintage wood salvaged from a downtown bordello, and a lampshade features original postcards showing the first Gaido family restaurant.
Additional original pieces feature such island treasures as a Mardi Gras chair purchased at a local charity auction and a collage incorporating a gambling chip from the Galveston’s fabled Balinese Room.
Birds, sea life and other coastal images also figure prominently in the home’s décor, from rugs to drawer pulls. Oyster shells serve in place of numbers on a clock face, and a commissioned work by artist Jack Morris portrays the now-lost landmark J.W.’s Bait Camp. Other paintings include sand and sea scenes by artists Al Barnes, Yvonne Macik, Herb Booth and Calvin Wehrle, plus Gayle Reynolds’ renditions of Galveston’s Mardi Gras arch, Hotel Galvez and island bar The Poop Deck.
Gaido’s most prized item, however, may well be the limited edition book titled “Sportsman — A Road of Histories,” by Allen Pauly. Published in 2009, the book traces the area’s earliest days and also includes photos of local homes taken by Pauly only a few days before Hurricane Ike.
“Our area lost 21 homes, and Allen lost his, too,” Gaido said. “For many, this book is all they have left.”