This large play area, located between Belmont, Pitkin and Pennsylvania Avenues and Vermont Street, was named Grace Playground on August 23, 1997 in memory of three graceful members of the Grace Baptist Church of Christ and of the East New York community: Deacon Major Cunningham and the sisters Dorothy Lee Corley Jacobs and Shirley Corley Justice. Deacon Major Cunningham (1924-1994) was born in Honea Path, South Carolina and made his home in Brooklyn. He was a charter member of the Grace Baptist Church of Christ and served as First Chairman of the Board of Deacons and Assistant School Teacher to the adult class.
Like Deacon Cunningham, Dorothy and Shirley both hailed from South Carolina. Dorothy "Dot" Corley Jacobs ( 1929-1993) joined the Grace Church in 1966 and devoted her life to caring for the children of her own family and of the extended family she developed through her work at the East New York Family Day Care Center and at Saint Vincent’s Foster Care Agency. Shirley Corley Justice (1932-1987) was also committed to improving children’s lives. She took part in the Foster Care and the Provider Mother Programs. She was recognized for her dedication with awards from the agency for Child Development and a Women’s Service Recognition Award from the 24th District of East New York.
The playground, situated between I.S. 292 and the East New York Neighborhood Family Care Center, was acquired in parcels between 1936 and 1989 and is jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education. A $1.3 million renovation was funded by Councilmember Wooten in 1994. Through this project the playground was enlarged from 1.25 acres to 2.73 acres. Improvements included the addition of new play equipment, safety surfacing, tire swings, four handball courts, two basketball courts, a turf ballfield, street trees, park trees, fencing and gates.