Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse on Monday announced a $1 million donation from a Swiss businessman and his family. The gift is the largest from a private individual for the Fairmount Park nonprofit.
The money from Michael Pieper, who lived in Philadelphia from 1978 to 1983 while attending the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and starting his business career at Philadelphia National Bank, will be used to help renovate the 16,000-square-foot playhouse “mansion,” and caps the organization’s “Preserving Play” campaign, which has raised $7.9 million from the state, the city, and the William Penn Foundation.
The playhouse will close later this summer for renovations, which include the addition of a nature-based preschool. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for October.
“As a Smith parent and a lifelong Philadelphian, I am thrilled to be a step closer to creating an amazing preschool for our city’s kids,” said Joe Khan, president of Smith’s board of directors. “I trust that the Piepers’ generosity will continue to inspire many in Philadelphia’s philanthropic community to support our capital campaign.”
Pieper’s company, Artemis Group, had $3 billion in revenue last year, according to its website.