Our Story

A historical site in Asheville since 1885

The original site of Magnolia’s dates back to 1885, when Mrs. Lula Stepp built a one story building next to her residence on North Market Street. This building was leased to Mr. Chambers and operated as a livery stable up until 1919. Located on the south side of the building were eight stable doors and a carriage entrance which you can still see throughout the restaurant – the french doors connecting to the patio, the stairway leading to the oyster bar area (pictured left) and the windows connecting the bar and the patio.

In 1912, the building was purchased by Mr. MacArthur as an investment property shortly before WWI. Mrs. Stepp’s residence was demolished and another one-story building was constructed, which is now known as our Magnolia Room. In those days, this buildings big claim to fame was that it possessed “modern indoor plumbing.”

In 1919, the whole property became the new base for the MacArthur Tire Company. They were Western North Carolina and East Tennessee distributors for Good Year Tires. The business thrived and was given a great boost by the advent of re-capping in the late 1930’s.

In 1929, at the insistence of Goodyear, the Magnolia Room was renovated as an office and warehouse. Blue tile was added to the front of the building, as well as various art deco type stucco to enhance the appearance. One of the very first illuminated signs in Asheville was placed on the roof. Around this time, North Market was a brick street, while Walnut Street was merely a dirt road. It is worth noting that North Market Street now remains the last brick street in Asheville.

In 1947, the Magnolia Room underwent another change and became the home of MacArthur-Krause Florist, a successful business which operated up until 1987 supplying fresh cut flowers to local downtown businesses. Once again, the Magnolia Room underwent modernization and acquired central heating to replace the old oil burners and a new roof to replace the original one that was still on the building.

On June 13, 1987, the entire property was sold to two local Ashevillians who believed downtown Asheville was ready for revitalization and could once again experience the rapid expansion it once had back in the 1920’s. With a simple dream of creating a good Southern Restaurant with charm and hospitality, Magnolia’s opened in April of 1988.