Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse was built with a bequest from Richard and Sarah Smith, and was dedicated to the memory of their adult son, Stanfield. Smith’s beautiful, 16,000 square foot Playhouse was designed solely as a play space for children by one of Philadelphia’s most prominent late 19th century architects, James H. Windrim. The Playground is situated on its original historic landscape – 6 1/2 acres of open fields, wooded terrain, and sloped hills – and is home to the century old Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide, a treasured play experience for generations of Philadelphia’s children, as well as other unique pieces of play equipment.
The mission of Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse is to provide and promote opportunities for unstructured free play for children.
- Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse stewards, consults about and advocates for play in the City, region and nation, serving as “thought leader” and helping adults understand the importance of play in children’s lives.
- Smith’s staff includes experts in play and child development, including those with Playwork experience who provide and promote opportunities for play, and those who are skilled in building community partnerships.
- Smith is a welcoming, safe and inclusive space where differences are valued. We facilitate education and interaction among children and families of different backgrounds in order to promote understanding and acceptance of diversity.
- Smith is active in an integrated, collaborative group of East Fairmount Park stakeholders, and works to increase access to the park and draw visitors to the area, including residents and tourists, for a variety of outdoor and play-inspired activities and learning.
- We provide year-round urban nature play, maximizing the natural resources available to Smith in its unique location, and enabling children and families to enjoy our offerings throughout all four seasons. We are stewards of our park and woods, and intentionally shape our programs around this tremendous asset.
- While our reach is national, we have a special commitment to and relationship with the families and children in our nearby neighborhoods. We see Smith as “belonging” to this community in particular and serving them is a priority.
- Reliable public and private funding supports our work and our historic facilities. Our funding comes from a broad and diverse mix of corporations, individuals (including a thriving alumni community), foundations (local, regional and national), and earned revenues (including from our building).
- We are especially proud of Smith’s history. We draw on our historical significance as one of the nation’s first dedicated play spaces to guide our programs both in terms of our historic site as well as the history of generations that have enjoyed Smith.
- Our culture is joyful, inclusive, and playful, mirroring our mission and our play space.
- Our staff and Board reflect the diversity of the children and families we serve.
Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse Board and Staff believe in…
- Creating joyful and meaningful interactions through play
- The value of inclusiveness and access to play for all
- Advocating for play as a practice that should be found everywhere
- Play as a way to nurture people’s hearts, minds and bodies
- Play in nature to cultivate love of and responsibility for the natural world