Richter’s villa: The forgotten farmhouse

Filed 20/4/2015 | Updated 15/1/2016
The house stopped me in my tracks, or on my wheels to be precise because I was on my bike. I’d been looking for Soviet “Spuren” and lingering Lenins, any traces at all of the Russians long since departed.
Look for one thing and you’ll find another. The house was standing proudly. Stoic, silent, clearly abandoned. I wheeled around for a closer look.
It was a fine house, magnificent. As I circled in admiration, wondering how it could come to such a sorry state, I noticed a neighbor eyeing me suspiciously from outside his Kleingarten. I took some more snaps, then decided to go over and ask him what the story was.
He was an oul’ fella with one eye and a little yappity dog who barked incessantly in a most unGerman manner, for dogs. Your man’s remaining eye was good enough and he must have decided my intentions were good. Maybe he just felt like talking…
“It's been like that since ’45. It belonged to a Jew, one Richter, but the house has been empty for a long time. In DDR times it was a school until they moved to a new building over there."
He indicated in the direction of the soulless Plattenbau school building I’d seen earlier, the Anne Frank-Grundschule on Puschkinstraße.
“Then it was used by a Konsumgenossenschaft until they left in 2000,” he said. “There’s been nobody using it since, though lots of people came to look at it because it was up for sale on the internet. Three fellows, students studying in Berlin, were really determined to buy it but then they slapped Denkmalschutz (protected status) on it and that ended that. They wanted to restore it to what it was.
“Now a hardware supply store from West Germany owns it. They want to build offices at the bottom and have apartments on the upper floors. There were builders in clearing the growth so at least you can see it again now.”
I thanked him and went back to my snooping. Subsequent research confirmed the gist of his story, though different sources have different dates for everything.
It begins in 1907 with Carl Richter, who was tasked by the military with buying land for the troop-training facility at nearby Wünsdorf. Apparently Richter had used his position to his advantage, buying land himself and selling at three times the price to the military treasury. Property sharks are not a new thing.
Richter became richer, so much so that he was in a position to buy a country estate at Sperenberg, upon which he had Otto Miethke build the castle-like farmhouse in 1912.
That was sold in 1927 to the Konsumgenossenschaft Berlin, which turned it into Kinder-Erholungsheim Sperenberg (Sperenberg Children’s Recreation Home) where kids from 8 to 14 years of age were housed for 28 days at a time.
The estate was taken over by the military treasury in 1935, and Nazi party member Siegfried Glimm was registered as the owner from 1938 to 1952. Then it was handed back to the Konsumgenossenschaft, which declared it “out of operation” in 1957.
Later the estate became a Volkseigenes Gut (VEG), one of the East German state-owned farms, until in 1960 it became a collective farm, a Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaft (LPG), known as Clara Zetkin. Fancy names, they couldn’t just call a farm a farm.
In 1991 it was given another long name that I won’t torment you with and in 1997 the Konsumgenossenschaft got the whole 1,920-hectare estate back again – along with the yo-yo farmhouse.
I’m not sure how long exactly it’s been abandoned. It doesn’t really matter. There are still curtains inside sheltering the truth but there are some things curtains cannot hide – the Gutshaus was born of property speculation and onto property speculation it shall pass. Perhaps it’s apt, it’s no longer gut.

What
“Richter’s Villa,” an abandoned farmhouse (Gutshaus) that previously also served as private residence, school and kids’ home of some type or other.

Where
Barutherlandstraße, Sperenberg, Am Mellensee, Teltow-Fläming, Germany.

How to get there
Follow the instructions for getting to Flugplatz Sperenberg in the previous post – same train, same road, almost the same place. Here it is on a map to make it even easier.

Getting in
The back door is open. Visitors apparently welcome.

When to go
Go during the day if you want to take photos, evening time if you want to have a candlelit soirée. You’ll need to bring your own candles. Take care not to burn the place down.

Difficulty rating
2/10. Getting here is the main chore. As I said, the back door’s open.

Who to bring
Bring someone you like of a similar mind who doesn’t mind cycling to get somewhere nice.

What to bring
Candles, a few beers, sandwiches or picnic material if you’d like a picnic, a camera for memories, and a torch would be good too. You’ll also need a bicycle of course but you would have noticed that as soon as you set off without one.

Dangers
No apparent major dangers. Just watch out for falling ceilings as per usual. And ghosts. Be respectful.

Thanks as always to Mark Rodden for his diligent proofreading and suggestions.
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6 comments

Thanks a lot! Just making plans for my next visit :)
I've already visited some of your places, but didn't get in the Spreepark - there was too many people around :(

Nice building! Thanks for your article! :-)

Been there. It was nice to see. But there is only that what you can see above in the pics :-) Not much there to see. Construction moved forward. All cleaned up inside.

Does anyone have any updates on this site? Am keen to visit but as it's a bit far don't want to mission out in vain

Went there 3 weeks ago, second time - This beautiful Villa has been sold.
There is no way to get in :(. Everything is barricaded. cheers

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