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.