As one of the country's oldest child-focused facilities, Smith remains situated on its original six and a half acre site and continues to provide play opportunities free of charge. Although located in Fairmount Park, Smith is not a city or governmental agency. Since its inception, Smith has been managed by an executive director and the Richard and Sarah Smith Trust officer. Recognizing the need to expand services and increase its funding base, in 2003 Smith developed a Board of Directors and incorporated as an independent non-profit organization. Smith is now led by an all-volunteer board supported by a professional staff and a dedicated cadre of volunteers.
On a daily basis, Smith works to accomplish the following goals:
- Foster respect for children of all communities and abilities
- Promote self-esteem and cooperation
- Nurture freedom of expression through play
- Cultivate an appreciation for the natural and constructed environments
After 104 years of uninterrupted service to the children of Philadelphia, in May 2003 Smith's Playground was closed for renovation. The difficult decision to close the facilities was based on an evaluation of the existing playground equipment, coupled with rising insurance costs. Few of Smith's play pieces or its 100-year-old Giant Wooden Slide, the focal point of the Playground, met today's safety and/or accessibility standards. In addition, the Playground's acres of hard packed, sloped and eroded surface made accessibility particularly difficult.
The Plan for Smith
Smith intends to renovate and restore the outdoor Playground and the indoor Playhouse over a period of five years. The essential elements are:
Play Zones - The Playground will include age-specific play areas. Each area will be designed to promote interaction among children, encourage imagination and creative play as well as foster caregiver supervision. Included will be more than 50 new, unique, age-appropriate, and accessible pieces of play equipment, plus the restored Giant Wooden Slide.
August 23, 2006- Cutting the ribbon at the opening of "Swing City".
Revitalized Site Facilities - A covered, open-air pavilion for picnics and outdoor programming, additional restroom facilities and increased security are among the slated improvements.
Playhouse Restoration and Renewal - The exterior and interior of the 24,000 square foot Playhouse will be restored and made accessible. The interior renovations will increase the overall useable area by 20% to allow for additional programs and to accommodate more children. Basic building systems will also be upgraded.
Accessibility for All - Extensive site work will maximize the amount of contiguous space accessible to people of all abilities.
The Family Fun Zone - Revitalizing Smith as a destination and resource for children and families will contribute to other efforts currently underway to restore portions of Fairmount Park and the Strawberry Mansion and Brewery Town communities that it abuts. Smith is located in an area dubbed by many as the new "Family Fun Zone" within minutes of: Boathouse Row along Kelly Drive; The Philadelphia Zoo; the new Please Touch Museum; Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course; a golf driving range; 12 tennis courts; the proposed Audubon Society Center; and Boxer's Trail.
The plans to restore Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse are ambitious, the estimated cost for the project is $10,000,000, but Philadelphia's children deserve nothing less than the best. To date more than $2,000,000 has been raised from individuals, foundations, government agencies, and corporations. If you would like to make a contribution to Smith's capital campaign and/or learn about naming opportunities, please call 215-765-4325.
Many, many thanks to the following individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies for their generous contributions to the Capital Campaign.
$250,000 and higher
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
William Penn Foundation
$50,000 – 249,000
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
David N. Pincus
$10,000 - $49,999
Caroline Alexander Buck Foundation
General Recreation Inc.
The Hassel Foundation
Susan O.W. and Paul Jaffe
Ronald McDonald Charities
Ross Family Foundation
Judy and Jim Strazzella
Widener Memorial Foundation
$5,000 - $9,999
Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc.
Chace Granting Group
Prudential Fox & Roach Realtor
The Charles and Peggy Roach Charities
The Wright-Hayre Foundation
$1,000 - $4,999
Chace Granting Group
Grace B. Charleston
Ann Corbett and Karen Ivory
Lynn and Eric Henson
The Samuel and Rebecca Kardon Foundation
Anne M. Morley
The Rittenhouse Foundation
Temple University Health Systems
$100 – $999
Maureen and Michael Acker
Amanda S. Aronoff
Beacon Center for Children
Ed Blumenthal, Mark Eskin, and Stan Singer
Ann Barton Brown
Adine and Benjamin Frank
Dr. Jeffrey Ingher
Irene and Bruce Marks
Annette B. Mattei
Michelle T. Seidner
Margot C. Sklar
SMPP Pre School Families
William & Mary Tsiouris
This list includes Capital Campaign Donors as of
September 11, 2006
The Site Plan for Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, May 2005