A four storey, blue and white grand beauty that bears the name “Cooper’s Castle”, sits on the highest point of Grand Bahama. There is no other building that compares to or resembles Cooper’s Castle in the entire Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Cooper’s Castle is indeed unique. Cooper’s Castle is a well-maintained building. Though it has suffered through many devastating hurricanes, to this day it stands strong. It is one of the very few sites of resilience located on the island of Grand Bahama, which contributes to our Tourism industry.
The castle was built in resemblance of European medieval castles. Cooper’s Castle sits on approximately forty-six acres of land. From the second floor balcony the breath taking view of the Atlantic Ocean and the entire island can be seen. From the roadside, the beauty of this castle cannot simply be overlooked.
This luxury castle not only serves as a tourist attraction for the island of Grand Bahama, but is also the home of Mr.
Harvard Cooper Sr., who was deemed the most successful entrepreneur on the island of Grand Bahama by former Prime Minister of the Bahamas, the Honorable Hubert Alexander Ingraham.
Cooper was given the opportunity to be interviewed by the former Prime Minister where he gifted his twenty-two
chapter book to him
entitled, “My Story… His Glory -The
Life and Experience of a Bahamian Son.”
The book basically explains Cooper’s rise to becoming a notable man in our Bahamian society. Cooper’s life story was given the name, “Rags to Riches” which is truly interesting and definitely explains it all. His life story is like a fairy tale.
Cooper was born on the 13th of March, 1931 on the island of Grand Bahama in the small town of Smiths Point where he grew up. His family was extremely poor; so poor that Cooper owned only one pair of pants! However, Cooper did not let his circumstances stop him. He became a fisherman before he decided to take up residency in the United States of America and become a contract worker. Years later, Cooper moved back to the island of Grand Bahama and found employment with the Grand Bahama Port Authority where he served as a messenger. Subsequently, Cooper presented his ideas of opening franchises to the officials that worked in the Port’s Authority, who granted him the opportunity to do so.
Cooper then went on to open business establishments such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pollo Tropical, Pizza Hut and many more. He overcame many challenges placed in his path on his road to success. Cooper has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Local Hero Hall of Fame for Business award and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Silver Jubilee award etc.
Cooper has served as a Sunday school teacher, a deacon, a superintendent in the church and later became the pastor of Upper Zion Baptist church in Freeport until he retired. Cooper is currently eighty- seven years of age.
Cooper was forty-nine years of age when his home was completed. His late wife, Doris Minette has been buried in the mausoleum that is located in the middle of the yard. A ceremony was held on the 9th of March 2014 to dedicate the mausoleum in honor of her.
A test tour of the castle was also held that day.
The property of which the castle sits was given the name “Cooper’s Estate” and it is indeed beautiful and well kept.
According to his daughter, whom I interviewed, six other houses belonging to Cooper’s children are also present on the property of Coopers Estate. Cooper’s Castle serves as a monument of success to the people of Grand Bahama and is definitely a fascinating accomplishment in Cooper’s fairy tale story. In the words of my aunt, “The castle symbolizes the fact that hard work pays off and can be used as a message for any young Bahamian growing up in the same predicament as Mr. Cooper and has a dream of becoming successful one day”.
Ramble Bahamas published an oral history report on KFC Freeport that includes an interview with Harvard Cooper and some photos of his first KFC in downtown Freeport. CHeck it out here: https://www.ramblebahamas.org/items/show/18