Sarah J.S. Tompkins Garnet Playground
Middleton Playground, along with the adjacent street, honors Arthur Middleton (1742-1787), one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Middleton was born on June 26, 1742, on his family’s plantation near Charleston, South Carolina. At the age of 12, his father sent him to be educated in England at the Hackney School, and at 18 he began study at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Middleton excelled in the classics, and developed a refined taste for painting, music, and literature while traveling through Europe after his graduation. He returned to South Carolina in 1763 and married Mary Izzard. Middleton’s appetite for travel was not satisfied, though, and he returned to Europe with his wife in 1768.
Upon his return to America in 1773, Middleton joined the growing ranks of patriotic agitators, despite his English education and the security of being heir to a profitable rice plantation. After contributing to the South Carolina State Constitution, Middleton went to Philadelphia to fill a seat vacated by his father in the Continental Congress in 1776. There, Middleton signed the Declaration of Independence. He resigned his seat in Congress to return to his home in South Carolina in 1777. Middleton and his family narrowly escaped a British raid of his plantation, Middleton Place, in 1779. While defending Charleston in 1780, he was captured by the British and transported to St. Augustine, Florida, which was still under British control. In 1782, Middleton was freed, and he returned to South Carolina, later serving in Congress briefly in Philadelphia. Arthur Middleton died in South Carolina on January 1, 1787.
The City of New York bought this property for park purposes on May 6, 1937 from the New York and Brooklyn Casket Company, the Rode and Horn Lumber Company, Inc., and the Samrode Corporation.
This park, located west of Lee Avenue between Lynch and Middleton Streets in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, features basketball courts, handball courts, play equipment with safety surfacing, swings, and a drinking fountain. In 1998, councilmanic funds supported a $149,539 renovation of the play equipment, safety surfacing, pavements, and fences. In 2000, $22,570 in mayoral funds sponsored an upgrade that provided additional fences. The site received a $500,000 renovation in 2008 and today, Middleton Playground serves as a welcome source of open space for the community.