With only one of their five grown daughters still at home, Liz and Al Copeland, Jr. considered downsizing from the Kenner home they built for their family in 1999. But their family-centric lifestyle and the importance of their family legacy changed their course. Instead, they built a larger home on the Lakefront property that was previously the site of Al Copeland Sr.’s house (known to locals for its annual display of Christmas lights) with the intent of making it a hub for entertaining family and friends. In addition to having five daughters, the couple have a sixth grandchild on the way and often host philanthropic events.
Toward the end of Al Sr.’s life, his Lakefront house had fallen into disrepair. Al Jr. suggested the Copeland family, who inherited the house, tear it down and approached the Jefferson Parish Council with the proposal of building and donating an Al Copeland memorial park for public use. Ultimately the idea was rejected and the lot sat empty for four years. Riding bikes on the levee one day, Al and Liz stopped at the location and discussed buying out the other owners and building what Al alternately calls their forever house and their “lifetime achievement home.”
A streamlined kitchen with a professional grade stove is open to the living and dining areas, allowing the couple to indulge their love of cooking while interacting with family and friends; acrylic bar stools provide seating at the roomy island topped with white marble.
The idea checked all of the boxes on the couple’s wish list. It was on the water, a must for Al who grew up connected to water sports and racing, it was spacious and it was connected to Al Copeland Sr., a larger-than-life family patriarch who founded world famous Popeyes chicken. Al, who worked alongside his father for years, now heads Copeland’s three divisions: manufacturing, hotels and restaurants. Liz is an executive within the businesses that she and her husband own together.
The Copelands built on the site that was previously home to Al Copeland Sr.’s house, known to locals for its annual Christmas light display; architecture, Dwayne Carruth of The Front Door design studio in Baton Rouge; landscaping, Tropical Pools and Palms.
The couple hired Baton Rouge architect Dwayne Carruth of The Front Door design studio and builder Adam Bertuglia of Creative Builders and made only a few minor changes during the building process. An imposing structure with a raised porch, huge columns and decorative wrought iron, it includes more than 10,000 square feet, resort-like amenities and sentimental details linked to Al Sr.
Liz and Al Copeland, Jr.
Although larger than their Kenner house, which contained seven bedrooms and eight and a half baths, this house has only three bedrooms (the master and two for grand-children) and more of an emphasis on the downstairs public spaces. The main living areas flow openly, yet each is designed to feel like a separate zone.
“Our plan was to have different experiences in the house and we did that intentionally,” the Copelands said.
The home gym features a vaulted wood ceiling and a boxing ring.
What really sets the house apart though is its luxe amenities. There is a fully equipped home gym, which husband and wife use regularly; a pool with state-of-the-art lighting, fire bowls, and fountains; an outdoor kitchen complete with deep fryers for Al’s own fried chicken recipe; an outdoor living room with fireplace, tv and a screen that can be lowered when necessary; a massage room, a streamlined commercial-grade kitchen where the Copelands can indulge their love of cooking, a pool room, a bar with a window that can be opened to serve guests outside, a prep kitchen for catering, a wine room, a glossy-floored garage where Al, a competitive race-car driver, stores and showcases his racecars, awards and racing memorabilia; and both a playroom and a craft room for the grandchildren.
The bar has a window on one side that enables guests to be served outside.
Initialized gates on either side of the house were salvaged from Al Sr.’s house and cut down to fit the new home. The front doors were custom-made to mimic the gates. Liz worked with interior designer Monique Roy-Cooper of Modern Flooring & Interiors (the two also collaborated on the Kenner house) to create a transitional interior set against a calming white backdrop. “I told Monique I wanted everything white,” Liz said. “I look at the house as a canvas knowing that I could add whatever I wanted to.”
A custom wine room is stocked with wines that Al Jr. collects.
During the Christmas season, Liz decorates the exterior and interior for both the family’s Christmas gatherings, as well as the Al Copeland Foundation fundraiser that the couple hosted last year and plan to make an annual event. Al and his siblings started the foundation in 2008 to find a cure for cancer, which took the life of their father. All proceeds from the invitation-only party go to fund immunotherapy studies and treatment at LSU Health Sciences Center. To date, the foundation has raised $1.8 million for the initiative.
Al Jr.’s glossy-floored garage is used to store racecars, motorcycles and racing memorabilia.
The Copelands’ Christmas decorations are much simpler than their predecessors’. Al Sr.’s lights now are displayed at Lafreniere Park, while Liz opts for ribbons on doors and a Christmas tree that forgoes ornaments in favor of lights only. Yet both the house and the party are tributes that would make Al Sr. proud. “This house is all about legacy and about prolonging legacy,” said Al Jr. “That’s very important to us.”
The outdoor living room and kitchen overlooking the pool offer outdoor views with indoor comforts’; the wide casement opening has a motorized screen that can be lowered when necessary. The decking around the pool, designed by Tropical Pools & Palms, is travertine and the hot tub is surrounded with glass mosaic tiles; the fire bowls and water fountains provide a relaxing focal point – especially at night.