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. 


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.


“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.”


“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. 

PPA Profiles: Tammy Hall, Storyteller

September 19, 2016

Veteran storyteller Tammy Hall began her career 20 years ago with the Prospect Park Alliance at Lefferts Historic House, and since that time has grown into one of the Brooklyn’s favorite teller of tales. In Prosect Park, she brings to life stories from around the world, as well as those told to the Lefferts grandchildren by matriarch Femmetie in the 18th century. In addition, she celebrates the work of Brooklyn’s own Ezra Jack Keats as part of the Alliance’s summer storytelling series at Imagination Playground. On September 25, the Prospect Park Alliance will celebrate this important milestone with a Storytelling Festival at Lefferts Historic House.

Tammy was born in Tennessee, where she grew up listening to Southern tales told by her father, and in the past 20 years as a storyteller has expanded her repertoire to hundreds of stories. In addition to her work with the Prospect Park Alliance, she teaches Folk Arts at the Dr. Betty Shabazz School in Brooklyn (PS 298) and has performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Apollo Theater and Symphony Space.

But Prospect Park is where it all began, according to Tammy. “I was in Prospect Park taking my daughter to the Carousel when I noticed Lefferts Historic House and spied a man telling tales under a large tree. The sight of him with his arms in the air engaging the audience was intoxicating and I thought this is something I have to do.”

Tammy was introduced to former Lefferts director Vivienne Shaffer, and began to volunteer during events, which turned into a professional appointment for Scary Stories of the Past at Halloween, and Summer Songs and Stories, which she performs to this date.

Maria Carrasco, Vice President for Public Programs at the Alliance, describes her work: “When Tammy tells her tales, stories come to life, imaginations soar and we are encouraged to expand our thinking and move beyond just being an observer. Tammy is amazing to work with and we are proud to be able to help her celebrate this wonderful milestone.”

Join us for the Storytelling Festival on September 25, and hear some of Tammy’s most beloved stories. RSVP today.

Celebrate Quilting

November 17, 2015

Tucked in amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City exists a thriving quilting community. For the third consecutive year, the Alliance is teaming up with the Brooklyn Quilters’ Guild to bring the outstanding work of its talented local artists to the Park.

“Lefferts has played a steady role in Brooklyn quilting for the past two decades,” says Maria Carrasco, Vice President of Public Programs with the Prospect Park Alliance. Quilting exhibits from various organizations have long called Lefferts Historic House home.

Longtime fans of the medium as well as curious first-timers will enjoy the craftsmanship and storytelling present in all 18 quilts in the exhibit, Celebration, whose quilters represent a diversity of cultures and backgrounds. Through November 29, join the Alliance at Lefferts Historic House to admire these original creations, which range from traditional to mixed media fiber art.

After exploring Celebration, elementary-school-aged quilting connoisseurs are encouraged to contribute to the community patchwork paper quilt, which highlights the creativity and talents of younger local artists.

Celebration caps off with a celebration of its own. November 29 marks the Lefferts Historic House annual celebration, Winter on a Flatbush Farm, and features an appearance by St. Nicholas, as well as traditional homemade Dutch treats to eat, made over an open fire.

Prospect Park Alliance Featured on NYC TV

October 23, 2015

Join TV host Dave Evans on a tour of things to do in Prospect Park! $9.99 with Dave Evans, an NYC Life program that highlights the best free or low-cost activities in the city, devoted a recent episode to Prospect Park. This episode highlights Prospect Park Alliance activities at Lefferts Historic House, the Audubon Center, the Carousel, Lakeside, and the Tennis Center, and also features an interview with Alliance President Sue Donoghue. Although it aired last week, the episode can be watched online at the NYC Media website.

Visit our calendar to learn about upcoming programs in Prospect Park.


Elizabeth Keegin Colley

8 Things to Enjoy this Spring

March 16, 2015

From family hikes with expert naturalists to performances by chart-topping entertainers, Prospect Park has you covered this spring. We’ve compiled our top eight concerts, programs and events not to miss this season. What are you looking forward to this spring? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #ProspectParkSpring

1. Spring Break

You don’t have to go to the beach to have fun during this annual school break. Join the Alliance at some of your favorite Park destinations, which will have special programming throughout the week. Take a first spin of the season on the Park’s 1912 Carousel, enjoy nature programs at the Audubon Center, plant spring sprouts at the Lefferts Historic House and enjoy the start of the rollerskating season at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

2. Opening Day

Join us April 11 for the Alliance’s annual Opening Day celebration with the Prospect Park Baseball Association. Thousands of players march up Seventh Avenue accompanied by a marching band and other special guests to the Bandshell for the ceremonial first pitch of the season. Play ball!

3. Pop-up Audubon

On April 16, the Prospect Park Alliance introduces twice the Pop-Up Audubon fun with a second tent that explores the aquatic habitats of Prospect Park as well as Discovery Packs, ready-to-go kits filled with fun nature activities for families to explore the Park. April’s theme, Animal Clues, will investigate the birds and wildlife that make their home in the Park near water.

4. Party for the Park

Help support the Park you love on May 14 at the second annual Party for the Park, an unforgettable night of dancing, cocktails and small bites from some of Brooklyn’s favorite chefs and mixologists.

5. Celebrate Brooklyn!

Now in its 37th season, Celebrate Brooklyn! will rock the Bandshell starting June 3 with a free performance by the Queen of Funk, Chaka Khan. Other favorites in this year’s line up are Willie Nelson, Interpol and more. Check our website soon for the full calendar.

6. Lola Star’s Dreamland Disco 

Lola Star’s Dreamland Disco will return to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside for another season of weekly themed rollerskating dance parties featuring your favorite hits from the 1970s and ‘80s. 

7. New York Philharmonic

There are few experiences more peaceful than listening to the sounds of the New York Philharmonic as you’re stretched out on a blanket in the Long Meadow. Help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Concerts in the Park at this annual event, taking place this year on June 19. Members at the Arborist level and above will receive special access. Become a member today. 

8. Pop Up Dinner Brooklyn

Keep an eye out for the announcement of the second annual Pop-Up Dinner Brooklyn, an evening where thousands of Park lovers, dressed in white, picnic under the stars at secret location in Prospect Park.  See photos from last years’s event. Members will receive early access to presale tickets. Become a member today. 

c. Paul Martinka

PPA Profiles: Rafe Shaffer

September 2, 2014

There are few people more passionate and knowledgeable about the Park’s illustrious past than Rafe Shaffer, the Supervising Educator at the Lefferts Historic House. Rafe grew up in Park Slope and has spent a lot of time exploring the trails, woodlands, hills and history of Prospect Park.

“I never imagined I’d work in Prospect Park,” he explained. A graduate of Brooklyn College with a degree in anthropology, he has worked with the Alliance at Lefferts Historic House for three and a half years, starting his senior year of college and working his way to becoming a supervising educator. Rafe is passionate about history and sharing knowledge about the past. Built by a Dutch family in the 18th century farming village of Flatbush and brought to the Park in the early 20th century, Lefferts features a working garden, historic artifacts, period rooms and exhibits. Visiting the house, you can find Rafe leading tours, organizing educational programs and greeting visitors at the museum’s teaching garden.

“My favorite thing about working at Lefferts is the joy you see on children’s faces as they play with toys from the past,” said Rafe. “They don’t even realize that they’re learning. And it’s a really powerful thing to watch. They might not remember the year this house was built or the names of the people who lived here, but they will always remember making butter and apple pie over an open fire.”

Meet Rafe at the upcoming Lefferts Historic House public programs, such as the second-floor tours, hearth cooking or the Harvest Festival on September 28. Learn more about Alliance programs at Lefferts Historic House.

Lefferts was also named a top destination for children’s birthday parties by Time Out New York, with ice-cream making, potato sack races and other historic fun. Have your child’s next birthday party at Lefferts.