When Marcia Thomas began planning her oldest daughter’s wedding in 2015, she had no idea four years later she’d open her own event venue.
Through the lengthy planning process, the former jewelry store owner struggled just enough with the available wedding venues and accompanying vendor options to motivate her to begin thinking about opening her own space that would provide everything she had wanted for her daughter’s wedding.
Fast forward to 2019: Thomas and her husband, Tim, opened Lakeside Venue at Pioneer in September, taking an old fish camp in Spartanburg County and turning it into an event venue surrounded by mature trees on the banks of a small lake.
The transformation process from 6,500-square-foot abandoned building with extensive mold throughout, to a memorable destination required almost a year of construction, Thomas says.
“It needed to be rescued, and it needed another life,” she says. “It could be so much more than they left it as.”
The Thomases found the property at 150 Pioneer Fish Camp Road after months of searching for land on which to build.
“Not a lot of venues have the view, and a lake, and water wheel and get to be surrounded by trees and still have heat and air conditioning,” Marcia Thomas says.
The former fish camp had been in operation for more than 30 years before the most recent occupants — the Loyal Order of Moose — took it over. The building had fallen into disrepair, the water wheel was nonfunctional and two rooms at the back were rotting away.
But the setting, with an onsite koi pond, 2-acre private lake and wooded surroundings, was enough to make the impending construction worth it to the Thomases.
“You don’t see anything else other than nature,” she says.
The water damage in the building came as no surprise after the Thomases learned from a former bus boy at the fish camp — who worked as a carpenter on the rehab project — that every time a thunderstorm hit, water would pour down the property into the building. Staff would be called in two hours before their shifts to help mop up the flood. A French drain has been installed around the building to ensure that won’t happen again, Marcia Thomas says.
The water wheel has been restored and will be solar powered. The koi pond has been cleaned up, the rotting rooms were torn down and a large deck was built. The interior has been completely gutted and redesigned with multiple separate spaces, including a chapel, main hall, bridal and groom’s suite, and catering prep kitchen.
“We had a vision from the beginning,” she says.
Find out more: Visit http://www.lakesidevenueatpioneer.com for booking information.