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$2.5M Restoration Planned at Prospect Park's Lefferts Historic House

By Rachel Holliday Smith | June 28, 2016 6:18pm | Updated on July 1, 2016 9:30am
 The City Council allocated $2.5 million in funds to restore the Lefferts Historic House, an 18th-century Dutch farmhouse and museum located inside Prospect Park.
The City Council allocated $2.5 million in funds to restore the Lefferts Historic House, an 18th-century Dutch farmhouse and museum located inside Prospect Park.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

PROSPECT PARK — A major restoration project is coming to one of the borough’s oldest houses.

Prospect Park's Lefferts Historic House, which is located off Flatbush Avenue near the Empire Boulevard entrance, is set to get a new roof, upgraded exterior and fresh landscaping thanks to $2.5 million awarded to the Prospect Park Alliance this month through the City Council, the parks group said.

The popular 18th-century farmhouse and museum — where visitors can see period-specific rooms, a working garden and take lessons on churning butter and making candles — hasn’t been restored in several decades, the Alliance said.

For years, peeling paint, overgrown pathways and a leaking roof have marred the Dutch wood-frame house once owned by the Lefferts family, one of the major landowners in the pre-Brooklyn village of Flatbush. In fact, the Alliance said the deterioration has forced the group to partially shutter the home’s second floor, which is currently accessible to a maximum of 10 visitors at a time, accompanied by a tour guide.

Now, the $2.5 million in funding will give the house a serious upgrade. The money will furnish new pathways around the historic site, give the facade a facelift and prevent further damage to the house's second floor.

The funds, proposed by the Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Brooklyn Delegation of the council which includes councilmen Brad Lander and Mathieu Eugene, were approved as part of the city’s capital budget in mid-June.

"New York City's historic sites provide visitors with a unique opportunity to discover our City's rich history," said Mark-Viverito. "The Lefferts Historic House commemorates Brooklyn's founding history and the Council is proud to provide $2.5 million to support this important restoration and ensure continued generations have the opportunity to learn about Brooklyn's past."

The Lefferts house will be closed during the restoration, but there is no firm timeline yet for when the project will take place, the Prospect Park Alliance said. Design and planning for the work will begin this year, with construction estimated to take place at the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.

The Prospect Park historic home has been located inside the park since the early 20th century, according to Brownstoner, moved there by the city from its original location on Flatbush Avenue between Maple and Midwood streets. Though the home dates back to the late 1700s, the house is not original; historians say the first Lefferts family home was burned during the Battle of Brooklyn and rebuilt in a similar style using pieces of the destroyed farm house.

CORRECTION: Due to a miscommunication from the Prospect Park Alliance, a previous version of this article stated the $2.5 million in new funding would allow the Lefferts Historic House to permanently reopen the home's second floor. The funding will allow for repairs of the roof, which will prevent further damage to the second floor, but will not cover the expense of permanently opening that level, the group said.