Frances Hoover of Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse on All Her Favorite Philly Places and Things
From shopping in King of Prussia to visiting the Discovery Center.
Frances Hoover — now executive director of Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse — has worked for corporations and schools and is as much an artist as she is a finance and marketing whiz. Here, all the things she loves around her hometown.
Item I wear every day: A bracelet from MyIntent Project with the word “inches” inscribed. It’s a reminder of Al Pacino’s motivational speech in Any Given Sunday, where he says inch by inch, you’ll get to the bigger goal.
Hobby: Drawing, photography, painting — anything art-related. I’ve recently been interested in assemblage. It’s when you transform found objects into something new.
Workout: Hot Yoga at Focus Fitness in Bryn Mawr. I like the 26-pose, 90-minute sequence. It’s slower and cleansing and requires concentration. I like the hot room, particularly in the winter. It feels good to come out into the cold air.
Personal Project: Researching my family’s history. After hating my first name for most of my life, I discovered that “Frances” has been in my family since 1890 and had a change of heart.
Last book I read: The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives. It’s my son’s school-wide assignment, and I’m reading it alongside him.
New Podcast: GirlTrek’s Black History Bootcamp, a “walking meditation series to remember where we came from and to gather strength for the road ahead.”
Beauty essential: Anything from SheaMoisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus line. It’s moisturizing, which is important because African American hair can tend to be dry.
Out and About
Go-to pandemic hang: East Fairmount Park: the mansions, the Cliffs, Boxer’s Trail, and the Discovery Center. Since working for Smith, I’ve learned a lot about the park.
Big work project: Completing an $8.5 million renovation of the 120-year-old Smith Playhouse, which will pave the way for our new Urban Nature Preschool. We are fixing leaks, expanding rooms and upgrading bathrooms.
Work-from-home tip: Make friends with the tech crew. I’ve had multiple computer mishaps during video meetings.
Favorite place to shop: The King of Prussia mall. I remember when it was outdoors. When I was young, my aunt would take me and my cousins there as a reward for good behavior. I feel like I grew up with it.
Best takeout dish: The brussels sprouts from Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft in Ardmore. It turns out the owner is married to my high-school classmate. We were cheerleaders together at Lower Merion.
Published as “Play It Cool” in the October 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.