The Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park has gotten a major cash infusion, as a national arts organization has shelled out a $275,000 to help promote the iconic historical monument.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the big-dollar grant to the Prospect Park Alliance, which maintains Brooklyn’s Backyard and the significant structures within the greenspace.
The Alliance will use the funds to continue their ReImagine Lefferts initiative which aims to better recognize and acknowledge the history of enslavement of people of African descent at the park’s historic house museum as well as the history of the dispossession of the Indigenous Lenapehoking nation, whose ancestral land the park and house reside upon.
“ReImagine Lefferts is a critical initiative for the Alliance, and we are greatly appreciative of the Mellon Foundation for recognizing the importance of this work, and providing the funding to bring this project to fruition,” said Morgan Monaco, the president of Prospect Park Alliance in a statement on Jan. 19.
“The work we are undertaking at the museum would not be possible without those who came before us, and we look forward to partnering with and supporting the many civic leaders and organizations who have led the way in the Brooklyn community over the past many years.”
The Lefferts Historic House is an official New York City landmark, and was constructed in the 18th-century. It was owned by the Lefferts family who enslaved African people while they resided in the house.
Now a museum, the Alliance is currently restoring the house through $2.5 million in funding provided by the Brooklyn Delegation of the Council before the museum opens to the public in mid-2023.
With the aid of the $275,000 grant, the Alliance will present free pilot exhibitions and programs confronting the building’s legacy and its history centering around African enslavement as well as Indigenous dispossession.
The Mellon grant will go to developing the program materials and development of these pilot exhibitions.
The grant also builds upon the existing work the Alliance has done to research the history of enslavement at the Lefferts House and has so far identified the names of 25 people who were enslaved on the property from 1783 to 1827.
By focusing on the Lefferts House’s involvement in enslavement and dispossession, the Alliance aims to focus narratives on underrepresented perspectives of American history, while also creating new opportunities for civic engagement and dialogue around the issues of race and human rights that are still relevant today.
“This project is an important step of many to help to heal deep-seeded wounds from our nation’s past, and help anchor the narratives of those who have traditionally been silenced,” Monaco said.
To learn more about the ReImagine Lefferts program, visit their website here and to learn more about the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and their work visit mellon.org