ReImagine Lefferts Featured in The New York Times
July 11, 2023
The ReImagine Lefferts initiative was recently featured in The New York Times. The piece by Laurel Graber, “A House Museum Has a New Message: New York Had Slavery, Too,” details the work Prospect Park Alliance is undertaking to re-envision the mission and programming of the Lefferts Historic House museum to focus on exploring the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family.
An excerpt from the June 22 story:
In 1765, a young woman named Flora came to live on the Lefferts family farm in what is now the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Skilled in treating illnesses with medicinal herbs and in preparing and preserving food, she took charge of the farmhouse’s kitchen, planning daily meals on the 250-acre property.
But Flora was property, too. Her record of enslavement is one of 25 personal histories recently unearthed by ReImagine Lefferts, an initiative dedicated to redefining the identity of the Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park. This Brooklyn institution, which consists of the homestead where Flora worked — it was burned during the American Revolution, rebuilt in 1783 and relocated to the park’s east side in 1917 — was originally a monument to the Lefferts family, prosperous Dutch immigrants who arrived in the 1660s…
Drawing from primary sources that include the New York City Municipal Archives and the Lefferts family papers, ReImagine Lefferts has been constructing biographies of previously unacknowledged residents like Flora, who is believed to have died on the farm in 1817, and Grace, who was born into slavery there in 1802. (New York State did not abolish slavery until 1827.) Through the initiative’s continuing work, the museum will feature contemporary art, historical exhibits and public programs that are inspired not only by enslaved Africans but also by the Lenape, the region’s Indigenous inhabitants.
“It’s a new definition of what a museum should or could entail,” said Morgan Monaco, the park administrator and president of the Prospect Park Alliance, which operates the Lefferts museum with the Historic House Trust.
The Alliance is now welcoming the public to the Lefferts Historic House Thursdays—Sundays. Visit and lend your voice to the future of the museum. Share your ideas with museum staff and fellow visitors and contribute to future programming through interactive brainstorming activities suitable for all ages.