Charlie’s Place honors Charles Lubin (1903-1988). Lubin entered the bakery business with his brother-in-law in Chicago and founded Sara Lee in 1949, naming the company after his daughter. Lubin believed he could provide quality baked goods to a mass market, and, in 1953, had developed a method that allowed desserts to be baked, frozen, and reheated in the same foil pan. When Consolidated Foods Corporation bought Sara Lee in 1956 they were so impressed with Lubin that they retained him as CEO. With a good understanding of the changing business world, he turned to television advertising in 1960 and introduced computers into his revolutionary new production plant in 1964. Lubin retired in 1965.
Charlie’s Place is located on Hopkins Avenue between Tomkins and Throop Avenues in Brooklyn, and originally opened in 1957 as the playground for P.S. 148, jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education. In order to create a larger playground, Delmonico Place was closed and the homes along the street were bought and demolished. The present-day parking lot covers part of that playground.
When P.S. 148 closed in 1985, joint operation of the playground ended and the park was closed as well. The school building was later reopened as the Blueberry School, a state-run secondary school for students with special needs. In 1991 the Board of Education regained administrative responsibilities of the property and created the Brooklyn Transition Center, 373 K, which helps students with special needs begin working in their community full-time.
The playground was reopened, in conjunction with the Broadway Triangle Urban Renewal Area, in part to provide play space for the children at the Beginning with Children School (P.S. 333), which is located just to the northwest of the playground in the old Pfizer building. This charter school opened in 1992. Mr. Lubin’s daughter, Sarah Lee Schupf, contributed to the Beginning with Children Foundation, attracted by the innovative educational ideas of Joseph and Carol Reich, the creators of the foundation that operates the school.
In preparation for use by the Beginning with Children School students, the foundation had the park cleaned and seeded with grass. Climbing equipment with safety surfacing was installed, benches were arranged in a sitting area, and hopscotch squares were painted on the asphalt section. There are measuring poles for children to check their growth, and a picnic table sits under a mature London planetree (Platanus x acerifolia). The Brooklyn Botanic Garden installed planting beds in the park for schoolchildren to use in their scientific studies.