1. The Leﬀerts Homestead
Ariel Newland, Dunja Pantic, Hee Jung
2. The Leﬀerts Homestead is a historic house located in Prospect
Park in the Prospect Leﬀerts Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also designed
Central Park, designed the park.
Currently, the house is open to the public as a museum through the
Historic House Trust. It receives over 22,000 diverse visitors every
year, including 3,000 children from school groups. The house is open
to the public from Thursday to Sunday. It is also host to many special
events, such as Flax and Fleece, where the public learns about how
the Dutch used these materials in their daily lives.
3. The Leﬀerts Homestead
The Leﬀerts came from Holland in 1660 and settled in Flatbush. The original
house was burned by British troops during the American Revolution. House
was rebuilt in 1783 and used by the Leﬀerts until 1918, when it was moved to
its current location in the park. The house was occupied by ﬁve generations
of the Leﬀerts family as well as their slaves and servants.
The Leﬀerts were a reasonably wealthy Dutch farming family. The family
owned one of the largest farms in the area. Family members were leading
citizens in Flatbush, active both in the church and the government.
King’s County was the ﬁrst colony outside of Manhattan along the
Native American trail. Flatbush developed as the trail was widened. It
was a prominent farming area at the time. It was occupied by tribes of the
Algonquin, who used the land for ﬁshing and farming, leaving little impact
on the landscape. For them, there were no owners of land, it was there to
use and protect. When the Dutch arrived, they claimed pieces of land and
pushed the Native Americans down to smaller segments, eventually causing
them to leave the area all together.
The Dutch grew a variety of crops such as vegetables, wheat and hay. In the
1820s, major changes came to the agriculture of Flatbush. These changes
included the opening of the Erie Canal, which allowed for major transport
of grains from the Midwest, and the emancipation of slaves in New York
in 1827. The Dutch began growing more vegetables to sell to the markets
of Brooklyn and Manhattan. This market gave back to the farmers by
providing manure to make the soil rich for growing plants. The Dutch also
began to rent their land to Irish tenant farmers since they no longer had
free labor from the slaves. In the late 1800s, John Leﬀerts and John A. Lott
invested in wells, improved roads, gas, telegraph, and improved municipal
services for the development of Flatbush. John Leﬀerts divided his land into
hundreds of lots to create Leﬀerts Manor, a residential community restricted
to middleclass whites. The establishment of Prospect Park also made this
area very attractive to homeowners.
4. Educational Programs
School Program 13 April 2007
We visited a school program and found many strengths and drew inspiration
from the experience. The enthusiasm of the children and their knowledge of
history was very impressive. The children were split into three groups and
went to stations throughout the house. The ﬁrst was upstairs, in Femmetje
Leﬀerts’ room, where the children identiﬁed ways she would have kept warm
and activities she would have done in the room. The next was in the front
parlor, where the children identiﬁed and posed as the groups of people who
once occupied Flatbush and dressed in copies of clothing from the time.
The last was in the double parlor, where the children played with hands
on objects and then selected one that they liked for the museum educator
to discuss how it was used. Afterwards, they went to lunch in the wigwam
next to the house.
5. Special Events
Flax and Fleece Day 29 April 2007
Fleece and Flax is one of the special events hosted by the house every
year. Activities include plowing the ground, planting ﬂax seeds, washing
and carding wool, weaving, and observing a spinner dressed in period
appropriate costume make balls of yarn from ﬂax. This is a crucial event for
the house as it engages the public in how the Dutch experienced daily life
6. Strengths Weaknesses
- Educational element of the park - Unknown to the public (lack of PR)
- The location - Needs more design aspects (more visible signage)
- Family friendly environment - Needs more visual recreation of history
- One of the well-documented historic houses - Needs more hands-on elements
- Hands-on learning
- Enriches the history of Brooklyn
- Diversity of audience
7. Initial Proposals
In observing the strengths and weaknesses of the house, we found a problem
we wanted to address in that people do not know about the house and it
does not have a large presence in the activities at the park. Some of the
proposals we came up with initially include:
• White linen sheets installation
• Egg shells
• Potato canon
• Outdoor panel exhibition
• Outdoor life-size game
• Cell phone tagging
• 80s board games outdoors
8. Design Precedents
We looked at precedents for outdoor play spaces to inspire our design process
including these samples of landscape architecture design by C.F. Shuler,
Inc. These included a series of overlooks, play spaces, outdoor classrooms
and interpretive facilities at a water recharge park and an outdoor learning
garden for a nearby school.
We wanted to incorporate physicality and educational history into a playful Our project sets out to achieve the following goals:
solution. We have proposed an educational play space. It is composed of a - attract more people to the house
series of rolodexes of themed questions throughout the garden that create a - provides play and activity even when house is closed
journey adventure through the history of the area.
- provides historical information that may not be learned in a normal visit
- make house more approachable to children
- provides activity for children from general public
- can be played by one person
- does not require supervision from staﬀ at the house
10. Each rolodex is composed of a series of historical themed questions. The The rolodexes are made from brass, a material that was used by the Dutch.
cards are 38 inches from the ground, providing for ease of use by children It is important that materials and aesthetics of the time are used in making
as they are in their reach height. Each rolodex has a theme color. objects for the house. The brass cards would be etched with the questions,
with a color ﬁll placed in the etched areas.
11. Leﬀerts Homestead
Fun, holidays and celebration
Dutch and Native American relations History of Flatbush Avenue (plank road)
Each rolodex has a theme involving history of Brooklyn. They are dispersed
throughout the garden, with an eﬀort to place them near areas they relate
History of Brooklyn
Education in Flatbush to. A player of the activity could start at any rolodex. By getting the answers
to questions correct, he or she would then move between the rolodexes,
Religion in Flatbush creating the journey adventure through the history of the area. If he or she
gets the answer wrong, they must remain at the rolodex until they get a
Slavery in ﬂatbush correct answer. We have created sample cards for three of the rolodexes.
12. The Dutch Canarsee Agriculture
European merchants used “fashion dolls” to In the 1620s and 30s the Dutch, along with The Dutch learned much about the land of
advertise their dresses to European women other Europeans, settled the areas inhabited Long Island from the Canarsee. What native
in America. Describe your own dress. by the Canarsee, they had little understanding Long Island plants did the Dutch utilize?
of the way of life of the Native Americans,
nevertheless they learned a variety of skills
from the population. Can you guess what
some of these skills were?
lettuce potatoes corn
squash apples seagrass
The gird and burn means
of clearing the land
Using local plants for herbal remedies
squash seagrass corn
Great job! If you were right: go to the Dutch and Native American Relations station If you were right: go to the Canarsee station
Go to: the Religion in Flatbush station If you were wrong: stay here If you were wrong: stay here
13. The Dutch Canarsee Agriculture
Unlike how today’s children get toys from toy The Native Americans have lived by The Dutch grew many types of fruits and
stores, children of Dutch settlers made their agriculture since 2000 BC. Maize was the vegetables. Match the plants with how they
toys. Can you tell how to play it? Pretend most common grain, they also ate several grow.
playing cup the ball. varieties of beans and squash, potatoes,
peanuts, chili peppers, cacao, and avocados.
Which of the following foods were not eaten
by the Native Americans? tree
lettuce potatoes corn
hamburger chocolate above ground
cup the ball apples squash asparagus
avocados below ground
lettuce asparagus corn
Great job! If you were right: go to the Fun, Holidays and Celebration station If you were right: go to the Religion station
Go to: the History of Brooklyn station. If you were wrong: stay here If you were wrong: stay here
14. The Dutch Canarsee Agriculture
Femmetje Lefferts (1753 – 1847) was a The Native Americans did not have money Who worked on a typical Dutch farm in
remarkable woman at the time. She ran as we do today, they had something called Flatbush in the 1700s to early 1800s?
the house and farm after her husband the “Wampum”, what do you think this was? After slaves were freed in 1827?
died. What would she have had in her
possession at the time?
donuts marbles seashells slave men Dutch men slave children Irish men
bed warmer fan
cell phone slave women Dutch women Dutch children Irish women
1700s to early 1800s After 1827
slave men Dutch men Dutch men Irish men
water basin slave women Dutch women
fan Dutch women Irish women
slave children Dutch children
If you were right: go to the Dutch and Native American Relations station If you were right: go to the History of Brooklyn station If you were right: go to the Slavery station
If you were wrong: stay here If you were wrong: stay here If you were wrong: stay here
15. The Dutch Canarsee Agriculture
Pieter Janse Hagewout Leﬀerts (1645 The men and women in the various Native The Dutch had to milk their cows twice per
– 1704), the ﬁrst of the Leﬀerts to settle in American tribes had diﬀerent tasks to do, day, once in the morning and once in the
Flatbush, took the ship de Bronte Koe (the which of the following activities were carried evening. Pretend to milk a cow.
Spotted Cow) from the Netherlands and out by women and which by men?
landed in New Amsterdam, now known as
Manhattan. What kind of ship did he take?
herding and shearing sheep
hunting 1. Pick opposite teats.
2. Push up and then squeeze gently.
processing animal hides 3. Squirt milk from one side and then the other.
protecting the house
women: cooking, making pots, raising
children, herding and shearing sheep,
fetching water, spinning wool, processing
men: ﬁshing, hunting, farming, protecting
If you were right: go to the Leﬀerts Homestead station If you were right: go to the Tenant Farming station
If you were wrong: stay here Great job!
If you were wrong: stay here Go to the Leﬀerts Homestead station
16. The Dutch Canarsee Agriculture
The Dutch settlement in Flatbush in the When the Europeans came, the population of What helped the Dutch grow plants in
1600s aﬀected names of the area. Can you the Canarsee had decreased by 75% of 4000 Flatbush?
recognize the following Dutch words? people, why do you think this happened?
- The Europeans brought diseases from
Europe, such as smallpox and diptheria
- The Dutch took over the land because they
were more powerful.
-The Native Americans wanted to go to Europe. rocky land
Breukelen - The Europeans brought diseases from
Brooklyn was named after the Europe, such as smallpox and diptheria
Dutch town of Breukelen.
horse manure ﬂat land
Vladbos - The Dutch took over the land because they
Flatbush came from the word Vladbos, were more powerful.
which means wooden land.
If you were right: go to the Tenant Farming station If you were right: go to the Education in Flatbush station If you were right: go to the Flatbush Avenue station
If you were wrong: stay here If you were wrong: stay here If you were wrong: stay here
Holliday, Billy. Personal Interview. 6 April. 2007.
Jablonski Berkowitz Conservation, Inc. Leﬀerts Homestead Historic Structure Report. Ed.
Christopher S. Clarke, Ph.D. New York: Random, 2002.
Mendes, Isak. Personal Interview. 13 April. 2007.
NYC architecture. http://www.nyc-architecture.com/BKN/BKN006.htm