By Rachel A. Brune
Outside on Hugh Shelton Loop and Schwarzkopf Drive, building continues on the townhomes, lofts and condominiums that comprise downtown Fayetteville’s newest community. Tucked into a banked curve across Bragg Boulevard from the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, the paint is still drying on the walls, while other units are still in the middle stages of construction.
At the far end of the first driveway, the new concrete sports a heart entwined around the initials “GB and DB." This is the address of quintessential local couple, George and Dena Breece, the first family to call ParkView home. From the carefully chosen location to the stories behind each painting, photograph and piece of memorabilia, one gets the sense that this is the home the Breeces have been waiting their whole lives to move into.
Home as a testament to their relationship
A blooming hibiscus bush greets visitors with orange and yellow blossoms, their cheeriness reflected in Dena Breece’s greeting at the door. The front leads to a narrow entranceway in which sits a small, wood table. Dena pointed out a framed photograph of her and her husband on their first anniversary in Hawaii — the first of many photographs and memorabilia throughout the house that have special meaning to the couple.
“We really have surrounded ourselves with things that are memories that we’ve shared,” said Dena, assistant professor of accounting at Methodist University, who is working on her PhD in accounting.
The tour continued to George Breece’s first-floor home office, a medium-sized room with attached bathroom and closet, opening out onto the first of three open air seating areas. Here, George displays his wide-ranging collection of personal and professional mementoes, from a photograph taken with a young William Jefferson Clinton — sporting a nametag — as well as a football signed by the Methodist University football team, presented along with a championship ring by the team on the occasion of “George Breece Day.”
“This is my bling ring,” said George, a former soldier in the Army and former member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, who is active in the civic life of Fayetteville. A recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, George speaks with both pride in and gratitude for his long history of public service.
One element on the first floor gives a clue to the couple’s love of art and support of local artists and craftsman. An original painting by local artist Kyle Highsmith portrays the Fort Bragg Road home where George was born and raised. George was in the process of completing renovations for his mother when she passed, and so commissioned the painting to commemorate the location.
“It’s a special place in my life,” said George.
Each abode in the row of townhomes is three stories, with a long flight of stairs between each level. Tucked neatly behind what looks like a simple closet door, an elevator provides access and a shortcut to the upper stories.
On the third floor, one’s eye is immediately drawn to the three bright, broad, rectangular art pieces that adorn the hallway. The paintings are the work of local artist Greg King, who incorporated Dena’s favorite earth tones with George’s preferred shades of green and turquoise to create unique modern pieces that open up the space.
The master bedroom opens up onto a balcony surrounded by leafy green trees that simultaneously provide a gorgeous backdrop and help to mask the sounds of traffic from below.
“It feels like you’re waking up at the beach every morning,” said Dena of the serene space, who also noted that the balcony provided prime viewing space for the seasonal fireworks at Festival Park. When the trees lose their leaves in the fall, the view extends all the way to downtown Fayetteville, where Dena takes her morning walk every day.
His and hers paintings
On the third floor, the couple displays several pieces of art that have “Breece” as the artists’ signatures. These range from a beach scene painted in watercolors, to patriotic downtown scenes in red, white and blue. One set of portraits includes a hummingbird alighting on a flower — Dena’s handiwork, as well as a Cobra helicopter in flight, a respectable effort by George.
In addition to collecting artwork wherever they visit, the couple has taken several art classes, and these works serve as a visual tribute to their relationship.
These local pieces and vacation memorabilia highlight the spacious walk-in closet, which the couple upgraded with cabinetry to best use the space. A bathroom with a separate shower features heated tile floors and a jet tub.
As the tour continued, George joined his wife on the second floor, which consists of a living room and dining area attached to a kitchen. Off the side of the kitchen, Dena has made her home office where she spends time studying and preparing her dissertation.
George and Dena have made several trips, collecting artwork and objets d’art that turn the tour of their home into the story of their relationship. From a translucent peacock piece in Murano glass from Venice, Italy, to portraits by St. Thomas artist Lucinda Schutt, to a framed triptych by Hawaiian artist Robert Lyn Nelson, the Breeces have brought their travels home with them.
Commitment to the community
Although the inside of the home is well insulated against exterior noise, the Breeces enjoy listening to music from Festival Park while lounging on their second-story balcony.
“We’ve always wanted to live downtown,” said George, who noted that the couple moved into their townhome in April. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
“Before the ground was even broken, we had put down a deposit,” added Dena, who also said that she had gotten to know many of the people working on the development.
The couple agreed that one of the most impressive aspects of the ParkView community was the attention to detail and the high level of customer service and commitment to craftsmanship.
“This place is built with the highest quality you’ll find,” said George, “and theirs is the highest service after the sale."
The couple has traveled extensively, including a trip to Paris where George proposed at the Le Grand Colbert, the hotel from their favorite movie Something’s Gotta Give. Still, they are keen to retain the local atmosphere, fitting for a relationship that began with a chance encounter in the Harris Teeter on Raeford Road. They are dedicated to promoting the revitalization of the Fayetteville community, and to retaining the spirit of “History, Heroes and a Hometown Feeling.”
The future of ParkView
After graciously opening her home to CityView, Dena contacted LaVern Oxendine, H&H Homes sales representative, who opened the model loft as well as an unfinished space, pointing out the views of downtown Fayetteville and the planned community green spaces, which includes a small park as well as a fenced-in dog park.
The community offers a design center for potential buyers, who can pick out their appliances of choice, as well as their color palette and upgrades such as the closet cabinetry chosen by the Breeces.
At the conclusion of the tour, George waited on the porch in which he had carved his and Dena’s initials. He had one request—take a picture of the couple next to the blooming hibiscus. Perhaps that print will take its place amongst the others in the Breece home, to continue their story of love and downtown living.