Socastee's Historic Cooper House

By:Ernie Wiggins

Date:7/31/2011

An ancient but healthy, towering sweet gum lends a stately quality to the lushly verdant grounds of the T.B. Cooper House and General Store on S.C. 544 in Socastee.

Rita Gray, proprietor of the Event Center that operates out of the Cooper House and General Store, seems as protective of the sweet gum, crepe myrtles and pecan trees as she is of the buildings in their midst.

“I just had an arborist here, and he said he’s never recommended a lightning rod for a tree but he does recommend one for the sweet gum,” she said.

An event planner and convention coordinator from Austin, Texas, Gray supervised the renovation of the historic structures and opened the new event center in 2006. The house, built by Robert H. Price about 1908 and named for Thomas B. Cooper, Socastee’s first postmaster, is a two-story structure that is rented for business meetings, receptions and weddings.

“We’ve become a location for ‘destination brides,’” Gray said, using a term that refers to the brides from out of town. “We just had a bride here who came 500 miles to get married here.”

The adjacent General Store was where Cooper collected and distributed mail and sold general merchandise. The mail cage and safe have been preserved and a couple of Confederate bills found in the safe have been framed and in the store. Though most often leased for parties and receptions, the General Store also is the site for monthly dinner theater, Gray said.

If you’re going:

The Cooper House and General Store Event Center are located at 6011 Old S.C. 544 (Dick Pond Road), Socastee. For more information, click here or call (843) 236-7077.

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