Local leaders gathered at Prospect Park on Friday to celebrate not one, but three new projects launched at the park – including the $2.5 million restoration of the Lefferts Historic House.

The other two unveilings were the designation of the path across from Lefferts as “Juneteenth Way,” and a site-specific installation produced in partnership with Photoville called “Jamel Shabazz: Prospect Park, My Brooklyn Oasis.” 

Jamel Shabazz. Photo: Paul Martinka

Lefferts Historic House is an 18th-century historic house museum, with programming focuses on the lives of the people that lived and worked the land, including the Lenape, Dutch colonists and enslaved Africans. The museum features a working garden and farm plots, historic artifacts, period rooms and indoor and outdoor exhibits. 

The $2.5 million will include a roof replacement, restoration of the exterior of the building, and the of repair paths and drainage surrounding the house. The restoration is slated to conclude by fall 2022.

While the house is closed for restoration, Prospect Park Alliance is undertaking a re-envisioning of the museum’s mission and programming to strengthen its focus on the history and culture of the Flatbush community, Prospect Park Alliance said in a press release.

Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue said the organization’s vision in terms of its restoration is to rethink its mission and vision to make it better reflect the history and culture of the community.

“In strengthening the bones of this historic structure, the Alliance is committed to recognizing the role the house played as a site of slavery, and telling the stories of enslaved Africans and Native Americans who lived and worked the land.”

She added the Alliance was “so thrilled” to be marking the moment with the unveiling of ‘Juneteenth Way’, and also celebrating the work and career of preeminent photographer Jamel Shabazz.

Along Juneteenth Way benches were painted the colors of the pan-African flag, and interpretive signage was installed as part of this designation. The Alliance and NYC Parks will look to officially rename the area after a celebrated Black community member next year via the public nomination and voting process of the NYC Parks Renaming Project.

Jamel Shabazz, We Are One. Photo: Jamel Shabazz

Shabazz’ “Prospect Park: My Oasis in Brooklyn,” held in partnership with Photoville, is a site-specific installation of works on the Lefferts Historic House construction fencing. The installation is on view through December 1, 2021.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the dual projects to honor the end of slavery on which the Prospect Park Alliance is partnering were right on time.

“The unveiling of “Juneteenth Way” as restoration of Lefferts Historic House commences, and the rotating art exhibit surrounding it, first featuring the photography of Jamel Shabazz, acknowledge the profound cultural contributions that continue to be made by people of African descent in this country, and the long overdue homage being made to those formerly enslaved who learned late in 1865 that they were finally free,” he said.

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