PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - One year ago, Ken and Debbie Steiner fulfilled a lifelong dream. They opened the Grand Magnolia Ballroom and Suites in downtown Pascagoula. It was a renovation process that took more than five years, but now the complex has become the crown jewel of downtown.
Outside, untold beauty beckons any guest who shows up. From fountains to flowers, it's a landscape that can't be resisted.
Inside, there's even more spectacular beauty. The glistening lights paint a picture from an earlier age: 1894, to be exact, when the Grand Magnolia was built.
Walk up the stairs and you walk into comfort that would ease any worries you might have. It wasn't always this way. Four years ago, the Grand Magnolia looked every bit of 116 years old.
Ken and Debbie Steiner poured everything they had into the massive renovation. So was it worth it?
"Up to almost the day before we finished, you could have bought this real cheap. But to answer your question, now that it's done and finished, we enjoy it every day," Ken said.
The work of transforming the Grand Magnolia from rundown to pristine took more than three years. Now that it's done, Debbie said there are moments to remember.
"Well, the highlights have been getting to meet a lot of different people, local people and people that have come in from out of town."
The ballroom portion of the complex has withstood the test of time and now offers the city a fabulous meeting place. When it looked horrible, no one would have considered entering.
When the Steiner's first opened this quaint business just about a year, they had one major goal in mind: To create an environment in downtown Pascagoula that would help draw other businesses and act as a hub for redevelopment.
"We wanted to do something, maybe, to kick start the revitalization of the downtown area. And then, hopefully, people will see what we've done and possibly be incentive for them to take personal funds and do something similar," Debbie explained.
But something like this can never be copied, only admired. Even as the Grand Magnolia is open for business now, Ken said there are still things to learn every day.
"The challenges basically are just knowing this business. We didn't have any way to understand other than just getting into it and growing with it."
And that growth means the Grand Magnolia will be around for another 116 years.
The Steiner's spent about a million dollars on the renovations and decor. The suites are especially busy on the weekends, and the ballroom is used to host dozens of community events every year.