Nanomaterials derived from earth-abundant metal oxides have gained tremendous interest as catalysts; although, water stability remains a challenge. This study examines MgO(111) surfaces for 2-pentanone condensation and their evolution during D2O hydration. Catalyst screening confirmed the high activity of fresh MgO(111) for 2-pentanone condensation relative to conventionally prepared MgO(100). Computational modeling suggests that the (111) surface is readily hydroxylated, and that surface hydroxyls help stabilize the surface and reduce the barrier for 2-pentanone condensation. Vapor-phase D2O hydration after 3 min increased MgO(111) hydroxyls and retained surface area and activity; however, after 1 h, deuteroxide formation reduced the surface area and activity by >30 %. After 24 h, deuteroxide growth slowed down, and surface area and activity remained stable. This suggests MgO(111)-derived hydroxide may be the dominant surface responsible for 2-pentanone condensation following water exposure. Thermal regeneration of the 24-h sample restored 86 % of the surface area and 94 % of the activity.