The beloved Lefferts Historic House reopened in Prospect Park, as city greenspace stewards held a ribbon cutting over the weekend for the restored 18th century farmhouse museum.
The reopening came after the museum, jointly operated by the Prospect Park Alliance and the Historic House Trust, underwent a $2.5 million renovation project to reinvigorate the institution near Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn’s Backyard.
“Prospect Park Alliance is grateful to the City and the Mellon Foundation for providing us with the funding to restore and reinvent our historic house museum,” said Morgan Monaco, Prospect Park Alliance President and Park Administrator.
According to City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who helped secure funding for the remodel, the center will continue to highlight the growth of Brooklyn as a society.
“In order to meaningfully address the legacy of slavery, and its indelible impact on our society, we must invest in opportunities to learn about our history,”Adams said. “Our progress as a society is contingent upon us knowing our history, and I look forward to our continued work with the Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks to create more educational opportunities for all.”
Reopening festivities continued on Sunday, May 21, with a Pinkster Celebration — an ode to the ancient tradition where Africans publicly met with family members and friends, enjoyed music and traded openly.
Sunday’s party included musical performances from percussionist Chief Baba Neil Clarke, the Pinkster Players, storytelling, games and food.
The updated history venue, which features a working garden, historic artifacts as well as indoor and outdoor exhibits, tells the stories of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking and Africans formerly enslaved by Leffert Pietersen Van Haughwout, an early colonists who immigrated to Brooklyn in 1660.
In conjunction with its latest remodeling plan, members of the Alliance launched ReImagine Lefferts, an initiative that will re-envision the mission and exhibits of the museum in telling the story of Brooklyn in a historically accurate way. Funding for the new program came from a Humanities Place grant from the Mellon Foundation
“Through ReImagine Lefferts, we are engaging the public around the ongoing legacies of dispossession and enslavement in Brooklyn and beyond, and I’m honored to be ushering in this new era of recognition and celebration of the narratives and histories that have been ignored for centuries. I am looking forward to working with our partners to make the museum a place for healing and a forum for thoughtful dialogue for our community,” Monaco said in a statement.
A spokesperson with the Alliance says this weekend marks only the beginning of a long list of culture celebrations to be hosted at the museum including Caribbean-American Heritage Month and Juneteenth events.
“Thanks to our partners at Prospect Park Alliance and Historic House Trust, Lefferts Historic House has undergone a tremendous renovation, while honoring its historic past,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “New Yorkers will benefit immensely from this preserved site and its greater mission, which through ReImagine Lefferts, places the stories of those previously untold on center stage. Visitors have so much to learn from our historic sites and how their legacies continue to impact and resonate with our world today.”