Exciting News!

Conservation Team wins two Preservation Alliance Awards

by Fairmount Park Conservancy on May 31, 2022

The Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia honored Fairmount Park Conservancy’s conservation team with two 2022 Grand Jury Awards for its role in restoration projects at Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse and the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia.

The Grand Jury Awards “celebrate the highest level of achievement in historic preservation,” according to the Preservation Alliance, a non-profit advocacy group that promotes the appreciation and protection of the region’s historic places.

At East Fairmount Park’s Smith Playground & Playhouse, the Conservancy’s team repaired the circa 1899 historic woodwork in the structure’s new preschool classrooms, explained Tom McPoyle, the Conservancy’s Director of Architectural Conservation. The Conservancy’s work also included removing, repairing and preserving wood window jambs and sashes and their associated hardware. 

Opened as a free and safe place for city children to play, Smith is launching a full-time, year-round Urban Nature Preschool program for children ages 3 to 5 at the start of the 2022 – 2023 school year.

The project partners were Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, Inc.; W.S. Cumby Construction; Mark B. Thompson Associates; Dimitri J. Ververelli, Inc; Knapp Masonry; Ann Rothmann Structural Engineering; Powers & Company; Streamlight Design; and Verdantes.

At the First Unitarian Church, the Conservancy contributed to the preservation of a window originally created by John La Farge, an influential painter and stained glass designer whose work put him at the forefront of the turn of the 20th century’s American Arts and Crafts Movement. The Conservancy team removed layers of paint from the window’s hand-carved limestone accents and patched damaged sections with custom mortars that matched the color and texture of the original stone.

Parts of the so-called “Isaiah” rose window were removed from the church’s sanctuary about 30 years ago because of the extensive restoration needed. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Conservancy team and its project partners, the window is on display again for the first time in a generation. The Unitarian Universalist church hosts religious services, community meetings,  two daycare programs and independent music performances.

The project partners were the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia; Friends of 2125 Chestnut Street; and Associated Crafts & Willet Hauser.

The 2022 Preservation Achievement Awards will take place on Wednesday, June 8 from 5:00 – 8:00 PM.