c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Reimagining a Historic House: A Community Conversation

October 12, 2021

Prospect Park Alliance hosted a Community Conversation with Meredith Sorin-Horsford, Director of the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, as part of its Re-Imagine Lefferts Historic House initiative to re-envision the mission and programming of this historic house museum while it undergoes restoration, recognize the role the house played as a site of slavery, and tell the stories of enslaved Africans and Native Americans who lived and worked the land.

In the lead up to the event, we asked Meredith a few questions about Dyckman DISCOVERED and her team’s approach to sensitive historical research.

Can you tell us a bit about your Dyckman DISCOVERED  Initiative?
The Dyckman DISCOVERED initiative investigates the stories of the enslaved and free people that lived and worked on the Dyckman Farm and the community that is now called Inwood in Upper Manhattan. This initiative brings an inclusive history to the community, fosters a sense of transparency and, we hope, engages visitors who have not seen themselves represented in the current narrative.

Where did you find information about the enslaved Africans and others who lived and worked the land apart from the Dyckman family?
We utilized the Dyckman papers at the New-York Historical Society as well as runaway slave ads, bills of sale and papers that relate to families that the Dyckmans did business with.

If you don’t have a lot of information about an enslaved person who lived in the house, how do you give visitors a sense of their lives?
Every piece of information that we find gives us an inkling into their lives, the languages they spoke, the skills they possessed, the food they ate, the spaces they would have occupied, etc. Additionally, information about the lives of enslaved people in the region might also help us to learn more about their lives.

How did you engage your community in your project?
We held community conversations during which we talked about the research that we found and used that as an opportunity to find out more from our neighbors about what they would like to learn more about. We have also held numerous public programs that relate to the Dyckman DISCOVERED initiative, including a lecture series and site-specific contemporary art installations.

Why is it important to preserve authentic and meaningful documents, artifacts, images, stories and places?
Authentic historic documents, images, stories, and places are so important to preserve because they tell us where we have been and how we ended up where we are now. Utilizing historic artifacts and stories are also a great way to engage our present-day community in conversation about the past and how it is connected with the present.

What kinds of programs help participants to see how their experiences in life are related to the interpretation of slavery?
I think that our lecture series, Talking About Race Matters: Join the Conversation, illustrates this best. This series, which we have hosted three times since August 2020, features professionals in the fields of history, archeology, anthropology, Africana and Latinx studies, women and gender studies, music and dance to talk about race from different perspectives. Through these community conversations, attendees are able to learn about, discuss, and ask questions about how the institution of slavery has shaped the history of this nation and the evolution of who and where we are today.

For those who couldn’t make it to the community conversation, the Alliance created a form where you can respond to the questions that were raised to our audience, and we encourage you to share your feedback. We do plan future community conversations in the coming months, and hope that you can join this continued dialogue.

The restoration of Lefferts Historic House is made possible through $2.5 million in funding from the Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council, and includes replacing the roof, restoring the exterior of the building, and repairing paths and drainage surrounding the house. The restoration is currently underway, and slated to be completed in 2022.

Learn more about Lefferts Historic House.

Jamel Shabazz

Jamel Shabazz: Prospect Park, My Brooklyn Oasis

June 17, 2021

In celebration of the start of restoration of Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park, Prospect Park Alliance is proud to partner with Photoville to present a site-specific photo exhibition celebrating the work of legendary photographer Jamel Shabazz: Prospect Park: My Oasis in Brooklyn. Opening in timing with Juneteenth, the exhibit will bring the work of Shabazz to the Brooklyn community. The photographer, whose work is housed within the permanent collections of The Whitney Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is best known for his iconic photographs of New York City in the 1980s.

Jamel Shabazz, Best Friends, 2006
Best Friends, Jamel Shabazz, 2006.

“At the early stage of my photographic development, I wanted to improve my skills as a photographer, and Prospect Park with its five hundred and eighty-five acres, became the ideal place for me to practice” Shabazz says. Forty-one years and thousands of Prospect Park photos later, Shabazz has captured reunion picnics, musicians, races, dog walks, and so much more in the beloved park he calls his “oasis in Brooklyn.” Exhibited along the construction fence surrounding Lefferts Historic House, the community of Brooklyn will be able to discover new stories and recognize old friends in Shabazz’s work.

“I have photographed a number of locations during my career as a photographer, but I can honestly say that my work centered on Prospect Park is both my largest and one of my very favorite series” says Shabazz.

The Art of Love, Jamel Shabazz, 1988
The Art of Love, Jamel Shabazz, 1988.

Prospect Park: My Oasis in Brooklyn will be on display outside Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park through December 1, 2021.

Header Image: We Are One, Jamel Shabazz, 1998

c. Virginia Friere

Play and Go in Prospect Park!

July 23, 2020

There is a new way to have fun in Prospect Park this summer! Join Prospect Park Alliance at locations around the park and surrounding neighborhoods as we bring our favorite activities from the Prospect Park Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House on the road in easy-to-borrow play and go kits.

The  Pop-Up Lefferts Play and Go Kit  includes historic games and toys, including a DIY kits to make a nine-man morris game board and Mamantuhwin, a Native American (Lenape) dice game, which you can take home with you. There is also a wooden egg and spoon and potato sacks for races with your friends and family. A small library of children’s books can also be borrowed along with your kit on a first-come first-served basis. Learn more about dates and locations.

Pop-Up Audubon Play and Go Kits features a range of fun nature activities and games, as well as a birdwatching checklist with binoculars, and much more. Families and children can enjoy nature on their own as they explore and learn more about the park. Learn more about dates and locations.

Kits can be borrowed for up to 45 minutes, and will be sanitized between sessions. 

Pop-Up Audubon is made possible through the generous support of Con Edison.

1000px-ConEd_logo.svg.png

Pop-Up Lefferts is supported NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

methodist hospital.png

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Short

Andrea Pippins

Pop-Up Lefferts Launches with caribBEING Partnership

June 10, 2020

Prospect Park Alliance has announced the launch of Pop-Up Lefferts, which brings free family programs focused on Brooklyn’s rich culture and history, starting virtually this June with its second annual partnership with caribBEING, a Flatbush-based cultural organization that builds awareness and fosters Caribbean heritage, as part of National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

In June, virtual programming will feature Caribbean-centered cooking, fitness, maker workshops and storytelling. Pop-Up Lefferts will then continue at locations around Prospect Park and surrounding neighborhoods while Lefferts Historic House undergoes a $2.5 million restoration funded by the New York City Council. 

Check out the scheduled events below and RSVP!

RSVP-btn-orange.png

Pop-Up Lefferts is supported in part by NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital
methodist hospital.png

Virtual Pop-Up Lefferts: caribBEING Cooks
Sunday, June 21, 2 pm
All ages, Free

Join Prospect Park Alliance and caribBEING to explore culinary traditions of Brooklyn. First, take a virtual tour of the Labay Market in Flatbush’s Little Caribbean to learn about the spices of the Caribbean, and then join us for a cooking demonstration with Nuyorican local makers Breukelen Rub, followed by a moderated conversation on Caribbean culinary traditions. 

Virtual Pop-Up Lefferts: Caribbean Fitness in de Park
Sunday June 28, 2 pm
All ages, Free

Learn how to utilize the park to improve your fitness, strength and endurance in this workshop led by Trinidadian-American, Flatbush-based performance coach, Marlon Jude, and then join him for a moderated conversation where he can answer your questions about getting fit and healthy in the park.  

Virtual Pop-Up Lefferts: Caribbean Candle Making
Sunday July 5, 2 pm
All ages, Free

Relax and enjoy a guided candle-making class with local maker Perry Boyce (Guyanese-American). Participants will try their hand at every step of the candle making process and create a custom candle of their very own, and then join Boyce for a moderated conversation about growing up in Flatbush, her art and practice.

Virtual Pop-Up Lefferts: Stories from the Caribbean
Sunday July 12, 2 pm
All ages, Free

Hear a selection of wise and witty Caribbean stories, as told by beloved storyteller Tammy Hall, then join us for a moderated conversation with Hall about the inspiration for these stories.

Lefferts Historic House is an 18th-century farmhouse that features a working garden, historic artifacts, period rooms and exhibits. The museum focuses on the lives of the people that lived and worked on the land including the Lenape, Dutch settlers and enslaved Africans. The museum is jointly operated by Prospect Park Alliance and the Historic House Trust of New York City. Starting in 2020, Prospect Park Alliance will undertake the restoration of the house, which will include capital improvements—replacing the roof, restoring the exterior of the building, and repairing paths and drainage surrounding the house—as well as re-envisioning the public programming to provide a living history of Brooklyn from the 18th century to present day.

About caribBEING
Founded in 2012, caribBEING builds cultural awareness and fosters Caribbean heritage through Film + Art + Culture. This creative hub is a fully-integrated, award-winning group that has partnered with Brooklyn Museum, the James Beard Foundation and other cultural partners. Learn more at caribbeing.com.

About Prospect Park Alliance
Prospect Park Alliance is the non-profit organization that sustains, restores and advances Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s Backyard, in partnership with the City of New York. The Alliance provides critical staff and resources that keep the Park green and vibrant for the diverse communities that call Brooklyn home. Learn more at prospectpark.org.

About NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital
NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital has been providing outstanding medical care to the surrounding communities for over 130 years. Located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the 591-bed teaching hospital is affiliated with Weill Cornell Medicine and provides specialized services in advanced and minimally invasive surgery, neurosciences, orthopedics, digestive and liver disorders, and cancer and cardiac care. Learn more at nyp.org/brooklyn.

Paul Martinka

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Prospect Park

January 3, 2020

As we enter a new decade, Prospect Park Alliance invites you to join us for special Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities in Prospect Park. This holiday is a great opportunity to take stock of the world we live in and reflect on what we can do to make it a better place for all. It’s also an ideal time to fit in those special winter activities you didn’t quite get to in December.

Freedom Songs and Stories with Tammy Hall
2 + 3 pm
Lefferts Historic House, $3 suggested donation, Registration Required

While Martin Luther King Jr. Day is specific to the United States, the struggle for freedom and self-determination is a universal experience across the world. This holiday, join Prospect Park Alliance at Lefferts Historic House for Freedom Songs and Stories with Tammy Hall. A masterful storyteller, Tammy Hall weaves together diverse tales from around the world to create a rich experience for all. Space at this event is limited, so please make sure to register for the event and bring your ticket confirmation on the day of the event.

RSVP-btn-orange.png

Nature Exploration
12–4 pm
Prospect Park Audubon Center, Free

We hear you: it’s hard to get outside in the dead of winter! If you need a reason to get out there, consider joining Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center. Designed to encourage children’s curiosity while teaching them about the plants and animals native to Brooklyn, these activities are fun for kids and caretakers alike.

  • Discovery Pack, 12–3 pm: Want to create your own Prospect Park adventure? Stop by the Audubon Center to pick up a Discovery Pack, a ready-to-go kit filled with nature activities for families, and explore the diverse habitats of Brooklyn’s backyard in whichever way you please!
  • Animal Encounter, 2–3 pm: Watch and ask questions as Alliance Naturalists tell you about the animals that live inside the Audubon Center. Found near and far, learn the animals’ favorite foods and the habitats they call home. This program starts promptly at 3 pm. Animal Encounters is made possible with generous support from Macy’s, Inc.
  • Winter Wilderness Walk, 3-4 pm: Curious about animal tracks in the snow, how trees survive without leaves, or how bugs stay warm? Join an Alliance Naturalist for a tour of Prospect Park to learn how plants and animals survive the winter. This program leaves from the Audubon Center promptly at 3 pm.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Tennis Program
Monday, January 20, 1–4 pm 
Prospect Park Tennis Center, $80, Registration Required

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a longtime tennis player or just learning the basics of the game. Geared toward both adults and juniors, the Martin Luther King Day tennis clinic features fast-paced drill stations that focus on specific skills, including serve & volley, ground strokes, approach shots and offense/defense strategies. Advance registration required.

Ice Skating at Lakeside
Monday, January 20, 9 am–5 pm
LeFrak Center at Lakeside, Admission: $11 on holidays, Skate rental: $8

An extra day to skate at LeFrak Center at Lakeside? Yes, please! Make sure to stop by on MLK Jr. Day for gliding, swirling and dancing on the ice to great tunes. When it comes time to refuel and warm up, grab a seat at Bluestone Café for lunch, snacks, and warm drinks. And for those that would like to brush up on their skating skills, make sure to check out Lakeside’s Skate School with instructors and Olympians (yes, Olympians!) Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. See you on the ice!

c. Andrew Gardner

2020 Winter Checklist

December 17, 2019

As we approach 2020, Prospect Park Alliance encourages you to look ahead to the fun that the new year has in store! From fireworks to sledding, winter walks and curling, we’ve put together 7 perfectly-park activities for you to check off your list in the new year. Take a look and we’ll see you in the park. 

Kick of the New Year with Fireworks!
Join Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Prospect Park Alliance for Brooklyn’s most spectacular New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration at Prospect Park’s iconic Grand Army Plaza. This free event includes live entertainment followed by fireworks at the stroke of midnight. This family-friendly fireworks display, now in its 40th year, attracts tens of thousands of revelers to Prospect Park, making it one of the city’s most popular celebrations. This event is free and open to the public, and will take place rain or shine. RSVP to let us know that you are coming!
RSVP-btn-orange.png

 

Make the Most of Your Holiday Tree
Join Prospect Park Alliance on January 4 + 11 for Mulchfest! Bring your holiday tree to Prospect Park, where it will go through a chipper and transform into environment-friendly mulch at both 3rd Street and Park Circle Entrances. Plus, you can take some home for your own yard or garden. Learn more about this beloved tradition—including how to volunteer. 
 

Get Out on the Ice
Enjoy a beloved winter tradition in Prospect Park—head down to the rinks at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside for hours of fun. There’s room for all ages and abilities, and make sure to warm up and refuel with hot chocolate at the Bluestone Café. Plus, the rinks aren’t just for ice skating—sign up for a curling lesson, hockey league, and even plan a birthday party at this popular recreational destination. Lakeside is open everyday in-season, including New Years day!
 

Try a Winter Walk or Run
Looking forward to enjoying Prospect Park’s natural spaces during this beautiful time of year? We can help with that! We’ve put together a suggested Winter Walk in Prospect Park to help you explore Lookout Hill. If running is your preferred speed, don’t miss our Cold Weather Running Tips that will help you make the most of a workout at this time of year. 
 

Get Ready to Sled!
Both through nature and by design, Prospect Park’s landscape is dotted with rolling hills, which makes it prime territory for winter sledding. When conditions are right, make sure to stop by the top sledding destinations in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Get there early, you’ll be competing with all of Brooklyn for a spot on the slopes!
 

Game, Set, Match
Planning on making a New Year’s resolution to get in shape? The Prospect Park Tennis Center is the perfect place to meet your goals while enjoying this fun activity. Play under the bubble on the facility’s indoor courts all winter long and improve your tennis—whether you’re a beginner or just hoping to take your game to the next level. 

Martin Seck

Winter Recess Festivities at Prospect Park

November 19, 2019

Prospect Park Alliance interrupts your regular device-filled schedule for some hands-on holiday activities at Prospect Park! Getting outside during short winter days is a great mood booster and a welcome break from the winter grind. And what better time to shake it up than the holiday season? During Winter Recess, December 26-30, Prospect Park has something for everyone, whether you’re hoping to spend quality time with your kids, commune with nature, or spend a day at the tennis courts. Whatever it is, grab a loved one, bundle up and head over to Prospect Park to make lasting memories during the most wonderful time of the year.

Gilded Frame Making
December 26–29, 1–3 pm
Lefferts Historic House, $3 suggested donation

Looking to get crafty this winter recess? Join Prospect Park Alliance at Lefferts Historic House for “gilded frame” making! Gilding refers to the practice of applying a thin layer of gold leaf over a given object. In days past, wealthy citizens often had a collection of gilded items, from candle holders and mirrors to frames for works of art. The gilded frames made at Lefferts Historic House are perfect for holding holiday photos and pictures of other special memories.

Nature Exploration
December 26–29, 12–4 pm
Prospect Park Audubon Center, Free

When’s the last time you watched a snake eat dinner? Have you ever held a hissing cockroach? Or spotted an Indian walking stick hiding among leaves and branches? Join Prospect Park Alliance at Prospect Park Audubon Center for Winter Recess, where you can do all that and more during Nature Exploration.

  • Discovery Pack, 12–3 pm: The Prospect Park Alliance invites you to get inspired by nature with our Discovery Packs, ready-to-go kits filled with nature activities for families.
  • Bird Nerd Game Hour, 1–2 pm: Learn about birds and nature in this fun, mildly competitive hour of trivia, bingo, card games, and more! Prizes will be available for all participants. 
  • Animal Encounter, 2–3 pm: Join Alliance Naturalists in learning more about the animals in the Audubon Center’s collection. This program starts promptly at 2 pm.
  • Winter Wilderness Walk, 3–4 pm: Curious about animal tracks in the snow, how trees survive without leaves, or how bugs stay warm? Join an Alliance Naturalist for a tour of how plants and animals live in the winter months. This program leaves from the Audubon Center promptly at 3 pm.

Tennis Holiday Adult & Junior Programming
December 26, 27 + 30, 1–4 pm
Prospect Park Tennis Center, $80/day, Registration Required

If you’ve been looking forward to a few days off so you can improve your tennis game, we have just the thing for you! On December 26, 27 and 30, Prospect Park Tennis Center will offer intensive, 3-hour group classes for adults and children of all levels of experience. Our accomplished staff of tennis professionals will give players personal attention while they acquire game fundamentals and increase their skill level. Don’t worry about snow, rain or sleet, because all Tennis Holiday Programming will take place inside the Tennis Center’s seasonal bubble.

c. Bess Adler

Sneak Peek of Fall Feast 2019

September 18, 2019

On September 29, from 1-4 pm head to Lefferts Historic House for Fall Feast, a day of fun celebrating the local, seasonal harvest, sponsored by NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. 

RSVP-btn-orange.png

This past spring, the community helped plant an inaugural “Stew Garden” at Lefferts Historic House, a historic house operated by Prospect Park Alliance in partnership with the Historic House Trust. Among the crops were onions, potatoes and carrots. “We sowed seeds of hardy root vegetables,” says Rafe Shaffer, the Prospect Park Alliance Supervising Educator at Lefferts, “the types of produce the Lefferts family would have grown as part of their winter stores so they could have fresh vegetables even in the coldest months.”

The house was built by Pieter Lefferts in 1783, four generations after his Dutch ancestors arrived in the New World. Today, the historic house is a museum of life in Brooklyn over the centuries. It features period rooms furnished to reflect daily life, hands-on American craft activities help visitors understand the changes in Brooklyn’s landscape since the 18th century, and now a stew garden!

Throughout the year, local families have helped water and care for the crops, and now all are invited to help gather the bounty. At Fall Feast, kids will be able to harvest, wash and weigh produce from the garden before bringing it to the outdoor hearth to be added to a stew that will be cooked by our costumed interpreter. “We’ve chosen to cook the vegetables together in a stew so their flavors really shine, and so the dish is familiar and accessible to our diverse  audiences,” says Shaffer.

NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, a sponsor of Fall Feast, will be making a seasonal salad and teaching kids to husk corn, which they can season and take with them to cook at home. The day will also feature lawn games such as croquet and corn hole, and a 2 pm story time with beloved storyteller Tammy Hall. 

That same day at 11 am, children with ASD are invited to a Harvest Festival—a related event that includes interactive learning experiences with sensory-based exhibits and activities. Space is limited and an RSVP is required. 

See you at the Fall Feast!

c. Paul Martinka

Welcome Winter at the Lefferts Historic House

November 16, 2016

What to do when the days become shorter and fall turns to winter? For the members of the Lefferts family, this season was an opportunity to gather together indoors for crafts and games. Quilting, candle making and board games were all a part of traditional life in 19th century Brooklyn, and this year the Prospect Park Alliance is bringing these activities to the modern day with a variety of programming at the Lefferts Historic House.

Starting in late November, with programs such as Winter on a Flatbush Farm, visitors to the house can learn about the cold-weather pursuits of a Brooklyn family in the mid-1800s.

We asked Rafe Shaffer, the Alliance’s Supervising Educator at Lefferts Historic House, for details about some of these activities.

Quilting

“Young women would have grown up learning to sew and quilt as part of their domestic responsibilities and many children would help in the making of thread and yarn,” said Rafe. “We are currently displaying a silk ‘crazy quilt’ made here in Brooklyn in the late 19th century, as well as contemporary work by the Brooklyn Quilters Guild as part of our exhibition.”

Games

“Cards, dice and board games were very popular pastimes before the introduction of electricity. Here at the Lefferts house we love the board game ‘9-Man Morris’. Visitors in December will get to make a game board to take home. Additionally, on display is a set of 19th-century playing cards thought to have been used by the Lefferts family.”

Candle Making

“Candle making was a traditional indoor task in the 18th and 19th century, and is very popular with modern visitors.  We make candles exclusively as part of Winter on a Flatbush Farm which focuses on tasks that would be done to prepare the homestead for winter. Candle making as well as olycooks a traditional Dutch fried bread were often made in the winter months

Turns out, there is a lot to be done during a Brooklyn winter aside from binge-watching your favorite show! And what is Rafe’s favorite winter activity at Lefferts?

“Helping feed St. Nicholas’ horse carrots when he comes to hand out chocolates and oranges to our guests at Winter on a Flatbush Farm,” said Rafe. “However, the thrill of a close game of 9-Man Morris or having a game with replica playing cards is hard to beat!”

RSVP today for Winter on a Flatbush Farm, Coming in from the Cold: Event for Children with Autism Spectrum DisordersBones of an Old Dutch House Tour and more.

Monument to the Unelected

October 5, 2016

NYC Parks, together with the Prospect Park Alliance and Historic House Trust, is pleased to welcome Nina Katchadourian’s Monument to the Unelected to Prospect Park’s Lefferts Historic House. This temporary installation, consisting of 58 signs bearing the names of the losing candidates from every presidential election in American history, will be on view from November 5 through 13, 2016, on the house’s lawn facing Flatbush Avenue. The installation coincides with this year’s presidential election, and once the results are official, it will eventually include a sign with the name of the loser of the 2016 Presidential Election. The Alliance will present a mock election and programming for youth at the house on Election Day.  

Katchadourian was originally commissioned by the Scottsdale Museum of Art to create a new work around the time of the 2008 presidential election and became interested in the plastic election signs sprouting up on front lawns, in vacant lots, and at busy intersections around Scottsdale, Arizona. She points out that “these markers tend to crop up in the weeks leading up to an election, after which they disappear, with some of the names going on to take office and others being largely forgotten.” The signs also struck her as an American tradition of sorts and with an aesthetic all their own.

Working with designer Evan Gaffney, Katchadourian created a series of signs bearing the names of every person who ever ran for president and lost. Each sign was made in a contemporary design vernacular, even if it advertised a candidate from a previous century. None of the signs are designs that were used in the candidates’ actual election campaigns. Many of the signs borrow directly from the designs of signs that she documented in Scottsdale; others were modeled on signs seen in other parts of the country. All the signs are printed on corrugated plastic using similar commercial production methods as common election signage.

This project is supported by the Historic House Trust’s Contemporary Art Partnerships program and the New York State Council on the Arts.