The Daisy Williams Gymnasium
For many years, the College did not have a proper gymnasium. Grammer Commons, the large room in the lower level of Grammer Residence Hall, did duty as the gymnasium but the space was inadequate and the ceiling too low for much more than calisthenics. However, it had to suffice, especially during inclement weather.
One student reported that she hated gym on rainy days as she detested calisthenics. In those days, physical education was required three times per week for all four years. No student was excused.
The President and the Board knew that something had to be done, so fund-raising for a new gymnasium began in the early 1920s. The effort was spearheaded by the Athletic Association. In 1931, the new gymnasium was built and the cornerstone ceremonies were held.
A long discussion, campus-wide, had taken places as to a name for the new building. All buildings at Sweet Briar had names, but this building, being neither an academic building nor a residence hall, posed a special problem. After much discussion and only three days before the dedication, the name was selected: it was to be the Daisy Williams Gymnasium.
On the very morning that the name was announced, Mrs. Martindale, the college housekeeper, went to her supply storage area located under the first floor steps in Gray Residence Hall. She found, to her surprise, a large bronze medallion of the head and bust of Daisy Williams. The sixteen-inch diameter medallion was mounted on a somewhat moth-eaten velvet background and it was framed.
Mrs. Martindale had been director of the halls of residence since 1906 and nothing escaped her noticed. This was an item she had never seen before. Quite surprised, she carried the medallion to President Meta Glass who was charmed by it but also quite in the dark as to its sudden appearance.
People from all over the campus were asked if they knew where it had come from. Nobody knew. It remained a mystery and still is. However, Miss Glass decided to have it mounted on the entrance hall wall just inside the doors of the new gymnasium. It is there to this day.
On the day of the dedication Miss Glass said, "I could think of no explanation of its appearance except that Miss Indie sent it in appreciation."
Ghost Stories & Mysteries of Sweet Briar
- The Dancing Cloud
- The Face in the Red Velvet Frame
- The Daisy Williams Gymnasium
Students and Alumnae tell their Stories