Lefferts Homestead, a stately structure located near the Willink park entrance at Flatbush and Ocean Avenues, near the Prospect Park B/Q subway station, is one of NYC’s many remaining Dutch homesteads. It was built by the Lefferts family in an area east of the park along the Old Flatbush Road at about where Flatbush Avenue and Maple Street are now. Peter Lefferts had arrived in New Netherland in 1660 and had purchased a farm in this area in about 1675, and passed the property on to his son John. The Lefferts name is remembered by major routes in Brooklyn and Queens.
On August 23, 1776, British forces engaged American rebels in the area near the farm. Rather than allow the British to occupy the house, the rebels burned it to the ground (the family had already left town to escape the anticipated British invasion). John Lefferts died a couple of months after that, and his family set to the task of rebuilding the farmhouse. By 1777, John’s son Peter had produced this gabled, shingle-roofed building featuring a 6-columned porch and dormer windows; the Lefferts family continued to occupy it in its original location until 1918, when the City took it over and moved it to its present location.
The Homestead is presently used as a childen’s museum, complementing the larger Children’s Museum in Bedford-Stuyvesant. During the year, there are sheep shearing exhibitions a swell as Dutch and African-American festivals. The building also features a rather eclectic library: on one visit, I found a long-out-of-print book produced by the Bay Ridge Historical Society, “Bay Ridge Chronicles,” detailing the history of my own home neighborhood.