Whitney, a lawyer, Secretary of the Navy 1885-1889 under Grover Cleveland, and financier, was also an avid sportsman and leading member of the "Aiken Winter Colony." He established the Whitney Trust in 1901 "for the institution and promotion of all kinds of sports and pastimes in the City of Aiken, S.C." Private and public donations alike paid for Whitney Park.
William C. Whitney, called "Aiken's most distinguished citizen" at his death in 1904, expanded a small cottage into a rambling vacation house of more than 50 rooms. Joye Cottage, its stables, and squash court are Aiken landmarks. He also help establish Hitchcock Woods, and the Whitney Trust owns Whitney Polo Field, the Court Tennis Building, Palmetto Golf Club, and the Powder House Road Polo Fields, all associated with the "Aiken Winter Colony."