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.

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Frances Hoover is the executive director of Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

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.

Favorite Things

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.

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A bracelet from MyIntent Project. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

Hobby: Drawing, photography, painting — anything art-related. I’ve recently been interested in assemblage. It’s when you transform found objects into something new.

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Painting is one of Hoover’s hobbies. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

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.

At Home

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.

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The last book Hoover read. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

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.”

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SheaMoisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus line. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

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.

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Hoover loves the mansions in East Fairmount Park. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

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.

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Smith Playhouse. Rendering by Mark B. Thompson Associates

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.

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The brussels sprouts from Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft in Ardmore. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

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.