To find out why the Gamecocks stadium is named Williams Brice? We have to travel to Sumter South Carolina for the answer.
When you say Williams Brice you think Gamecock football, but you probably don’t think about the Williams Brice House in the heart of Sumter. It’s an Edwardian Eclectic house sitting on North Washington Street. It’s the home of the late Martha Williams Brice.
Rickie Good with the Sumter County Museum says, “Owell Williams was originally from North Carolina and he had a furniture company up in North Carolina, and as we all know there’s a lot of timber in the Sumter area.”
So in 1919, Owell Williams decided to move down bringing his wife and daughter Martha. He opened a furniture store. At one time it was the largest employer of the city of Sumter.
Martha Williams eventually married Thomas Brice, who played football for the University of South Carolina in the early 1920s. After the couple passed away in 1969, their nephews Phil and Tom Edwards became executors of the estate. Their aunt said she wanted to give some of the money to the University of South Carolina.
“The problem was the amount of money involved was so large that they literally had to go to the United States Congress and get them to pass an act for the IRS to take the charitable deduction,” says Good.
Expansion of what was the Carolina Stadium took place from 1971 to 1972. Afterwards on September 9th, the stadium was dedicated to what is now known as Williams Brice Stadium.
Today, the Williams Brice House is now the site of the Sumter County Museum featuring objects owned by the Williams family and other prominent families in the area – a seemingly small museum that speaks louder than its size because of the importance of Sumter County.
Good says, “We weren’t just sitting here isolated among ourselves, we were part of a state and a nation.”
Now it’s the generosity from the part of a Sumter family that keeps giving to Gamecock fans.