MYRTLE BEACH — Just northwest of the Socastee Swing Bridge on Dick Pond Road sits a beautiful campus, blanketed by a huge oak tree draped with Spanish moss.
Though the historic Cooper House and its accompanying General Store Event Center is filled with many beautiful nooks and treasures, it still pales in comparison to the memorable events it hosts throughout the year — weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and more.
“It’s a piece of history,” said Marnie Kennedy, venue coordinator who helps run The Coop — as they call it since taking over in 2016 — with her ex-husband Ralph Stacey, who owns it.
“It’s a part of who Myrtle Beach is. If it wasn’t for The Cooper House and The General Store… that’s where people went for their money and their mail and their groceries. So if it wasn’t for The Coop, we might not have what we have around here. And it’s one of the few pieces that we have around.”
The Cooper House was named for Thomas B. Cooper who lived in the two-story home in the early 1900s. Cooper was postmaster for the Socastee area of Myrtle Beach at the time and mail was distributed from the T.B. Cooper Store, which is now the event center.
The house’s covered front porch serves as a gathering area for pre-wedding festivities. The three-room bridal suite is on the second floor of the house and the groom’s room is in the first floor library. However, the magical moment of the bride entering the ceremony is unmatched in the area.
Many brides opt to enter the ceremony from a second-story staircase overlooking the waiting guests to a newly paved walkway that leads her to her welcoming groom.
The ceremony is typically conducted in front of the towering oak tree, which makes for an amazingly picturesque scene for marrying couples.
“It’s always been a beautiful venue and I think it was time for Ralph Stacey to come in and breathe some fresh air into it and do some improvements,” Kennedy said. “It’s been a slow process. Everything takes time and money. But the response has been amazing.”
The response has even been good during a year where many businesses suffered due to COVID.
“Since we were able to do weddings again in June, we’ve been great,” Kennedy said. “We’re booked solid through the end of the year and into next year. We’re actually very lucky and in a very good space. We’ve been very fortunate.”
And many couples have adapted to the times by adjusting the size of their weddings and using technology like Zoom and FaceTime to allow guests who couldn’t make it to join in the ceremonies.
“Our weddings are smaller,” Kennedy said. “The size has definitely gone down. A lot of weddings that were supposed to be 100 people have gone down to maybe 40 or 50. I’ve also seen that in my requests for next year’s weddings. They almost feel compelled to say, ‘It’s only a small wedding of 50 people…’ So I think a lot of people in the future are planning smaller weddings.”
Though weddings receive much of the pomp and circumstance when locals talk about The Cooper House, it is also home to corporate meetings, special events, birthdays and more.
They all receive the personal touch of both Kennedy and Stacey’s attention and talents.
“There’s this personal feeling that you don’t always get at the bigger venues,” Kennedy said. “The two of us together have been a force that you can’t really reckon with. Sometimes I’m kind of at a loss for words about it. We’re really blessed… We both know that neither one of us could do this without the other. That’s the most important thing… That’s what is The Cooper House — us together.”
The Coop has allowed both Kennedy and Stacey to spin off additional businesses. Kennedy runs “Leave It To Marnie” — an event planning service, mostly for weddings, that Kennedy started when she saw a need for an affordable wedding planner. Stacey began taking off-site catering orders, as well.
But Kennedy said The Cooper House and The General Store Event Center, complete with the warm and cozy decor they’ve added the last few years, remains their focus.
“We just plan to keep getting better and better,” Kennedy said. “We are constantly doing improvements to the property, constantly working on the yard and making sure that it looks amazing. People can plan on more of the same, only better.”
More information about The Cooper House and The General Store Event Center can be found at TheCooperHouse.net or by calling (843) 236-7077.