The alarm goes off, the coffee turns on and the days of play feel farther and farther with every watch tick. We forget the feeling of an authentic belly flip from swinging to high or can’t remember the day that we actually became to old to play.
Memory lane, rooted in a mission of service, can be found right here in our own city, and its only a slide ride away- a century old slide that holds the secrets and wishes of many.
Nestled in a quiet nook on 6 acres in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park a world of enchantment exists. Founded in 1899 from a bequest by Richard and Sarah Smith, in honor of their son Stanfield, Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse has welcomed millions of young and young at heart to explore the world through unstructured free play.
Historically the playhouse was designed by James H. Windrim, one of Philadelphia’s most prominent architects. Windrim also designed the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Falls Bridge and other notable structures that still stand today. The drive to open Smith was rooted in the American Playground Movement. The Movement began in the mid-1890s when child-saving reformers, social workers and child psychologists, concerned about the health and welfare of urban children and believing that supervised play improved the mental, moral and physical well-being of children, urged local governments to construct playgrounds where children could play safely.* Today Smith works with surrounding communities of Strawberry Mansion, Brewerytown and Fairmount., while also serving Philadelphia as whole through collaborative partnerships and offsite programming.
Join us on Wednesday, June 20 for an evening full of fun and games as Museum Council hosts its 79th annual member meeting at Smith. Through historic photos and toys, experience the evolution of play and playgrounds hands on. You might just remember simpler days of story time instead of deadlines.
*Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse website, 2018.
– Kelly A. Murphy, Museum Council Marketing Committee.