Buna's Polka Dot House
When my son was asked to do a family history project for his 2nd grade class, we came up with the idea of creating something about the Buna Polka Dot house. Upon researching information about this small town landmark in S.E. TX, it quickly became apparent to me that there really wasn't anything documented and what was, was grossly inaccurate. This got the ball rolling and I decided to create this page as an homage to my late grandfather, Virgil Newton Davis; the man who was responsible for the building of this home that no one, other than his family, actually remembers. This is his story told by my mother, the wife of Mr. Davis's 3rd son, Virgil Jud Davis.
Virgil Newton Davis was a native of Old Laurel Community in Newton County and lived in Bessmay as a child. After the death of his father, Walter Jud Davis, in 1910, he moved out of the area and traveled throughout Texas and the southwest settling in Oklahoma for many years. It was there on the stark plains of Oklahoma that he first noticed that many of the plain houses were adorned with some kind of decoration to give a little interest and variety to the structures. This concept stuck with him over the years.
With the arrival of WWII, Mr. Davis was forced to sell his ranch in Oklahoma when he could no longer hire ranch hands as all able-bodied men were serving in the military. He moved back to Buna and took a job at Levingston Shipbuilding in Orange. Near the end of the war, he moved all his family to Buna. Once he had obtained adequate housing for his family, he began buying property in the late forties. He built the now famous polka dot house in 1948.
The original structure was lath and plaster stucco with a mesh backing for added strength. The entire house was painted white with bright blue polka dots on the stucco only. The dots were made by covering the end of a short length of 2x4 with a piece of burlap which was dipped in paint and then twirled on the surface of the house. The canopy over the porch and other exposed wood areas were left white. There was no blue trim around the windows and doors and red was never a part of the color scheme.
The house was a rental until Mr. Davis passed away in 1950, then his wife, Nila, and his children, Joyce, Jud, Allen and Herman Lee moved into town and into the polka dot house. Nila lived there until about 1964 and deeded it to Herman. He sold it in the early seventies and it changed hands several times before the current owners took possession.
At the time of his death, Mr. Davis was building a duplex apartment behind the old theatre which he planned to decorate with horseshoes and teardrops. Unfortunately for Buna, he did not live long enough to see that idea come to fruition.
*This quirky, historical landmark now functions as a gift and flower shop to the locals.*
Virgil Newton Davis
- Born November 12, 1896
- Father, Rancher, Homestead Builder
- Died July 25, 1950
- Wife was Nila Darthoulia Davis
- Children: Albert, Charles Olen (C.O.), Joyce, Jud, Allen, and Herman Lee