One of Mississippi’s most notable mansions now revived, refreshed and ready for guests

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, May 3, 2023

One of Mississippi’s most notable mansions has been refreshed and revived for those who want to rekindle romance or return to a time gone by.

Cedar Grove Mansion Inn in Vicksburg is officially back open for overnight guests, private events and more.

The ca. 1840 home of John Alexander Klein was purchased by Harley Caldwell and Steven and Kendra Reed in April 2022, with plans to restore it to its former glory after it lay empty for a number of years. The trio began hosting overnight hotel guests in November and now, one year after purchase, boasts 15 guest rooms and suites on the property with room to grow.

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“We started off with three rooms,” Kendra said. “Then we added two more rooms, then three more rooms and so on. Once we turned the corner, the growth has just kept coming.”

In addition to renovated guestrooms in the main house, Cedar Grove boasts luxury riverview rooms nestled high above the property in one of its many outbuildings.

By maintaining much of the home’s existing furnishings and focusing instead on structural and cosmetic updates, Kendra Reed said she and her partners were able to bring the business’ offerings into the 21st Century.

“People who had been here years before are so excited that we’re back open,” Caldwell said.

“It’s a very nostalgic thing,” Kendra added. “With the changes we’ve made, I’d say they’ve been very pleased.”

Such is evidenced by the newly painted ballroom, which is swathed in a fresh coat of light gray paint and sans curtains to allow for maximum natural light in the space.

Another welcome transformation, Caldwell said, is the mansion’s library space. Formerly a darkened room with leaks and fallen plaster, it has been repaired and repainted — for all intents and purposes, looking like a new room entirely.

“The ballroom was a transformation,” Caldwell said. “I think we tried to lighten things up and, really, not be as dark and Victorian. The lighter colors neutralize the space a little bit.”

The most complete transformation thus far, however, is the mansion inn’s bar area. Set to be the cornerstone of the Chandelier Lounge, which encompasses most of the northern side of the home, the bar received a full facelift and is ready to take on the happy hour crowd. Accompanied by a sitting room, the lounge will soon expand to include the former restaurant space. A pink Murano-glass chandelier, for which the lounge area is named, hangs at the center.

“The lounge starts at the bar and we’ll walk through four rooms,” Caldwell said. “We’re going to have a singer, a piano player and since we don’t have a restaurant, we’re going to focus on champagne and dessert and appetizers.”

Cedar Grove’s faithful will likely remember the bartender as well: Anthony Jenkins, who started working at the home at age 16 and returned to lead the bar program. And the job comes with a view: the bar is graced by panoramic windows that will soon give way to a picturesque view of the gazebo and gardens.

The Chandelier Lounge is open Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 5 p.m. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m., the group hosts a 30-minute happy hour tour that concludes in the lounge.

“We’ll be your before-dinner place or your after-dinner place,” Kendra said.

There is still much to do at Cedar Grove, with landscaping and upcoming renovations of the carriage house at the south of the property next. They’re also still looking for a right-fit restaurateur to bring a fine dining experience to the property.

“We have worked really hard to find a restaurateur,” Steven said. “So far, no one has either come forward or matches what we’re looking for. But we’re ready when that person comes.”

But Caldwell and the Reeds say they have a simple message for those who are new to Cedar Grove and those who are ready to rekindle their romance with the property: “We’re open for business.”

Cedar Grove will host a ribbon-cutting event and open house on Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. A separate open house will take place on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. The events are free and open to the public.