Karyn Tufarolo: Charms of Fairmount Park at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

I am enjoying my summer internship project at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR), where I am working with the Historic Preservation Department to promote the “Charms of Fairmount Park,” a branding/marketing initiative and website launch for the historic homes located in the park. Woodford (Lauren Schwartz Photography)

There is an unusual administrative relationship between this city office and the seven homes open to the public as small museums in Fairmount Park.  The city owns and maintains the buildings, yet independent non-profits operate the day-to-day activities.  And two buildings are administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  I am learning a lot about collaboration in a consortium model as well as observing administrative challenges and successes in these cultural settings.

With my love of architecture and Philadelphia, I’ve really enjoyed researching these homes and familiarizing myself with their stories. The homes are: Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, Sweetbriar, Strawberry Mansion, and Woodford.  These villas served as rural summer retreats for prominent families during the eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century. 

Today, these houses are preserved to tell the cultural history of the past to visitors.  They are lovely, important, unique homes that are a real treasure for Philadelphia.

It is interesting to observe the dynamics of the unusual relationship of the houses to the Park.  The houses have small budgets generally and limited resources; they face challenges.  Yet the staff and volunteers are so committed and invested, it is truly inspiring.   And they are fortunate to have the umbrella resources of the city to help maintain these building for prosperity as they develop unique programming and interpretation.

Mount Pleasant (Lauren Schwartz Photography)

My main task for this summer is to work on implementing some of the marketing recommendations from a previous consultant’s marketing report, designed to re-brand these houses collectively as “The Charms of Fairmount Park.”   The goal is to raise awareness of the homes, increase the number of visitors and help market these homes as a collection.


PPR Offices, across from Love Park (Tufarolo)

My schedule is varied and hectic as I also work a full-time job, so I am juggling many tasks and completing some deliverables from home.  I began this project in April and throughout the summer and early fall, I am spending Wednesdays at the PPR offices for meetings, then at Cafe Cret on the Parkway (right next to the offices) and continue working on tasks. It is a lot of emailing, calls, and sharing documents with staff and with the designer throughout the week. I’ve attended various meetings and have had official tours at the homes, which have been wonderful. 


Cafe Cret, named after Paul Phillipe Cret (Tufarolo)

With various house guides and staff, we’ve brainstormed as a group about a new fall event, currently called the Boxers’ Trail Fun Run/Walk Community Day.  This event is designed to provide outreach into the immediate neighborhood near some of the houses in East Fairmount Park.  I look forward to assisting at this event.


Some tasks from this summer:

  • Reviewed Marketing Report & past focus group reports
  • Reviewed style guides and logo
  • Wrote recommendations for the website RFP
  • Tested a Squarespace website CMS
  • Developed website content map
  • Researched house information and visitor info (lots of historic reports), articles and other documents on file
  • Reviewed other historic home websites with comparable features
  • Wrote website copy
  • Developed Charms Pass admissions proposals for new pricing structure
  • Attended Boxers’ Trail event planning meetings
  • Interviewed candidates and selected a graphic designer; managed his work

Now the next phase with the website will be editing…and editing… and editing to make sure it flows and that the navigation works well for our audience.  And making sure the house constituents and stakeholders give me feedback and comments.  

Lemon Hill (Tufarolo)
I am learning how much I enjoy working with such positive and engaged people who care deeply about Philadelphia.  They are a dedicated group. And I love promoting these homes to new visitors and making the experience better. 


Look for the new website…coming this fall!