One of the truest signs of a desirable community is one that draws generations of family members who strive to put down their own roots and live near the people and the places that they love. Though Madison is known for being a magnet for young families that flock to the nationally-recognized school system, it has also become a hub for those who come here and stay for different purposes too.
For Paul and Kia Ray, they were swooned to Madison in the early 90s by an uncle who loved living in the area. He repeatedly shared with the Rays that the north Alabama area was on the cusp of booming, so they packed up their life in Tucson, Arizona and headed east.
They purchased a home, established Ray’s construction business, had their first child Tyler, and then had another child, a daughter named Brontë. Tyler was actually a 1st grade student at Heritage Elementary the first year that it opened.
The Ray family spent eight years in their first Madison, Alabama home before listing it for sale and purchasing a different home, also in Madison.
“The first offer we got on the house didn’t work out, but then we got a second offer by a buyer who wanted to stay anonymous,” shared Paul. “We thought that was so strange, but we then found out that it was actually my mom!”
He says that she was living in Arizona at the time but preparing to retire.
“She wanted to watch her grandkids grow up,” Paul says, noting that their youngest child Brontë was two years old at the time.
Ray’s mom closed on the home in 2002 and spent 19 years living in Madison. With Paul’s construction expertise, he was able to renovate several rooms in the home to make sure that they fit his mom’s style and function.
Earlier this year though, his mom began to make plans to sell the home and move back to Arizona. She immensely enjoyed watching Tyler and Brontë grow up, but with both of them now adults, she was ready to get back to her home state.
Without even listing the house though, Paul’s mom had an interested buyer: her granddaughter Brontë and her fiance whom she will wed in November.
“It’s very difficult for young couples to find a starter home in Madison, and they knew the only way to stay in Madison and buy a home was to have a grandmother who was selling,” laughs Paul.
Brontë and her fiance officially closed on the home in June 2022 and look forward to their newlywed years in the same home that her parents brought her home to after she was born.
As for Paul, he’s now remodeling the home for the third time.
“I’ve already done the kitchen, flooring, and painting for my mom, and now we’re doing much of it all over again!”
Paul says that the family recently enjoyed watching old videos of Brontë as a newborn and says that it’s so funny to see her as a baby laying on the floor that they are now refinishing for her as an adult.
“She has no recollection of living in that house, so to her, it’s a brand new home!”
Paul says that he and his wife never expected the home to become as sentimental as it is and that they’re grateful for how the home has allowed three generations of their family to live close in proximity to each other.
“We met our neighbor Curtis went we first moved into the home, and we remember when he came over to see Brontë as a baby. He’s lived in his home for 40 years, so he’s been able to watch our family transition through this house!”
As for moving to Madison nearly 30 years ago, Paul says that it’s been one of the best decisions they’ve ever made.
“We’ve loved living here and watching Madison grow,” he shares. “We’ve seen all of the changes this city has been through, but the real thing that makes Madison great is the people.”