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All The Rave - It’s the most prestigious address on Fort Bragg – Michael and Joy Rave call it home

It was 10 years ago when Joy Rave first saw the stately stucco houses standing along the Normandy neighborhood’s tree-lined streets.

And she knew, as her husband, Michael, rose through the Army’s ranks, that this was where she would like to live.

Joy Rave got her wish. Today, Michael is a colonel and the assistant commandant of Womack Army Medical Center. The Raves reside at 7 Adams St., in one of the two-story homes exclusively occupied by generals and full colonels.

Normandy is the most prestigious address on Fort Bragg. No. 1 Dyer St. has been home to commanders of the 82nd Airborne Corps from Bowley to Austin, with McClosky, Honeycutt, Devers, Hodge, Hickey, Westmoreland, Throckmorton, Tolson and Shelton, among others, in between.

The historic Normandy neighborhood lies between the Main Post Chapel and the Officers’ Club and is part of the Old Post District. Constructed between 1927 and 1939, the district is a planned community that includes administrative offices, family housing, and community and recreational facilities interspersed with open, green spaces intended to give it the appearance of a campus. There are 297 buildings in the district eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

Michelle Michael is an architectural historian for the Fort Bragg Cultural Resources office. She describes the homes as Spanish Colonial Revival or Spanish Eclectic, which may seem an odd choice for the Sandhills of North Carolina. Michael explained that the Army and Department of Defense used standardized plans with three or four styles for different regions. The Spanish style chosen for Fort Bragg is also found at Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Sill, Okla., and Fort Lewis in Washington. At Fort Lewis, the buildings have brick exteriors instead of stucco.

The one-story stucco bungalows on Alexander and Hunt streets were the first to be built and date back to 1928, according to Michael. The two-story single family Colonial Revival homes were built between 1930 and 1934. Nine duplexes of the same style were built in 1936. In later years, homes in more contemporary styles were built nearby, and now under construction are attractive two-story brick homes similar in style to the older homes of Normandy.

The name Normandy comes from the famous World War II invasion. Other housing areas also have been named for famous battles, according to the command historian, Donna Tabor. Streets are named in honor of famous artillery men.

The Raves appreciate the historic significance of their neighborhood.

“I love this house, with its little creaks and cracks,” Joy Rave said. “I think about all the people who have lived here and where they might be now.”

Col. Rave appreciates the quiet, and noted the thickness of the sturdy concrete walls that keep out street sounds.

Despite the transitory nature of military life, the Raves have enjoyed meeting their neighbors and exchanging visits with them. Joy Rave, whose children are grown, likes to watch the children at play on the nearby parade field.

Living around historic properties is not new to her. She comes from the scenic North Carolina coastal town of Beaufort. That’s where she met Michael, whose parents moved there after his father retired following a naval career. Michael is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and his father is a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis. When Army and Navy do battle on the football field, there’s a lot of spirited rivalry between father and son.

The Raves had previously lived in Fayetteville’s Kingsford neighborhood. The convenience of living on post was a consideration in their decision to move. Security was also a factor. With guards posted at entrances into Fort Bragg, it is the premier gated community. And if household problems arise, Picerne Military Housing, which manages housing on Fort Bragg (excluding barracks), is quick to respond, Joy Rave said.

She made the move in September while her husband was deployed to Iraq.

He joked that he didn’t know where he would be living when he came home. “But I found her.”

Although the houses are somewhat cookie-cutter in appearance on the outside, they vary on the inside. Each has its own nuances, Joy said. For example, there are built-in bookcases in the Raves’ living room, a feature that may not be found in some other houses in the Normany neighborhood.

Because the houses are historic structures, alterations are limited to updates in kitchens and bathrooms, said Kelly Douglas, Picerne’s communications manager. Picerne has an interior designer on its corporate team who advises on details such as paint schemes.

The Raves downsized from a 4,000-square-foot home in Kingsford to 2,427 square feet in their Fort Bragg house, excluding the basement, and weren’t able to use all of their furnishings. But the pieces they brought with them reflect Joy’s penchant for the unique, the dramatic and a touch of whimsy, effectively displayed against a background of neutral walls and polished hardwood floors.

She told the decorator she worked with on her Kingsford house (where one of the rooms was done in a Moroccan theme): “Take it over the top and step back two.”

In the living room, four comfortable, oversized gold damask chairs surround a matching round ottoman for conversation in front of the fireplace. At one end of the room is a console with hand-carved details from Italy.

Across the hallway in the dining room, a round table dominates the space. A first glance suggests the top is made of marble. Joy reveals that it is petrified wood. Paired with the table are hand-carved mahogany chairs in a light faux finish.

The console in the dining room has a gold leaf finish and is a replica of a piece in the Palace of Versailles, Joy said. Standing beside it is a large golden goose, and she is planning on painting a large golden egg to place under it. The chandelier and wall sconces are original to the house.

The butler’s pantry and kitchen show recent updates of Corian countertops, cherry cabinets with brushed nickel hardware, tile flooring and stainless steel appliances. The Raves enjoy cooking and entertaining, and they added commercial shelving in the basement to hold the overflow of small appliances, utensils and dishes from their previous large kitchen.

Next summer, the Raves will be moving to Fort Sill, Okla., where Michael, a cardiologist, will become the commander of the Reynolds Army Community Hospital. They already know how they will arrange their furniture.

The house they will move to is exactly like their present home.