After 30 years, Little House on the Hill Daycare, 8100 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, closed it’s doors for the last time on Aug. 18 (Photo by Lilly Soroko)

by Sue Ann Rybak 

For more than 30 years, parents have been dropping their kids off at Little House on the Hill, 8100 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill. That tradition ended on Friday, Aug. 18, when the owner Marie Lapworth closed the business.

“Mrs. Lapworth worked hard to establish a school that she could be proud of, and that she did,” said Carrie O’Donnell, the director of Little House on the Hill. “It was a combination of Mrs. Lapworth’s passion for nothing but the best for her students, her incredibly talented, loyal and loving staff and amazing parent and student body that kept us here for so long. We like to thank our family of parents, teachers, staff and children for an amazing 32 years.”

She said when Lapworth first opened Little House on the Hill in 1985, there were only a handful of children.

“Little House started in one room with two staff and over the years grew to take over the entire building, both floors and employed upwards of 12 to 15 staff at times,” said O’Donnell, who is also the daughter of Lapworth. “Even though the building could accommodate many children, Mrs. Lapworth felt it was important to maintain that family, homey feel.”

She added that enrollment at the daycare typically “hovered around 60 children.”

Although Little house was Montessori based, it also had a strong focus on academics.

“We wanted the children to leave here with a confidence allowing them to excel in their kindergarten and beyond,” she said.

When the community heard the daycare was closing, several graduates and their families returned for one final hug.

“Many of the graduates were on their way to high school and college,” O’Donnell said. “That is a testament to the huge impact we had on both parents and children.

“With the recent addition of the soda tax coupled with the Catholic schools’ pressure to enroll early to secure a kindergarten spot, we have seen the enrollment numbers slowly declining. These factors deeply affected the smaller businesses.

“After careful consideration, it was with a very heavy heart that Mrs. Lapworth chose to say goodbye. Although a very difficult decision, the right one.”

In an email to the Little House on the Hill, the Temple family wrote, “Little House will always occupy a Big space in our hearts. It nurtured three of our babies and played a part in the fourth one’s career.  We will miss you and will hold our memories dear.”

Little House has many items that it must get rid of. If there are any schools or daycares interested in books, educational materials, puzzles, toys, shelving, tables and chairs, wall art, etc.  Please call the daycare at 215-248-4990.

Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at 215-248-8804 or sueann@chestnuthilllocal.com

 

  • Joe

    Can someone please explain to me how the soda tax effects this business specifically?

    Also, I feel like the Catholic schools are being called out here a little unfairly. Our child was one of the ones that was moving into catholic pre-k 3. I know they are not intentionally trying to make me feel guilty… but that is what is happening – and I feel just terrible. We loved Little House.

    Isn’t it true that the public schools also have free (or very cheap) pre k programs as well? Why are only the Catholic programs being blamed ?

    Also, if the business started in one room with a handful of children… why couldn’t they have just scaled back? I’m guessing that the current owners just had no more interest in continuing the business – frankly, it has seemed that way for awhile. They probably realized that selling the real estate would give them cash now – and that was more attractive then trying to fix the current business.

    I feel like there is some blame going around… soda tax, catholic schools etc. to distract people from the real reason…. (which may not be as glamorous) – this business isn’t making enough money to warrant my attention, i don’t want to invest in fixing it, i’d rather sell the business and retire.

    • BKeyes

      you seem pretty sensitive, joe.

      • Joseph

        I guess I am. However, I heard that the owner was going through a divorce and that the asset needed to be divided, and hence sold.

        I only wish more notice could have been given, particularly to the staff. It makes me think that they just were trying to grab that summer tuition. Bad note to end on after 30 years.

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