While we were watching the Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, some locations seem to be familiar to us. Some places that were supposed to be foreign, like Moscow and Mexico City, looked like places we recognized from our daily life here in Berlin. With this thought in mind, we decided to look for Queen’s Gambit locations, and the first place we visited was the Schloss Schulzendorf, also known as the Methuen Home orphanage.
On a cold Saturday morning, in November 2020, we took our cameras and our drone and headed south of Berlin to the town of Schulzendorf where this large house can be found. We took a train from Neukölln to the new BER airport, there we met with our friends from Canal Alemanizando. Finally, we headed by bus to the first of many Queen’s Gambit Locations in Berlin.
Before we talk a bit about the Schloss Schulzendorf, we have to tell you that, in the story, the Queen’s Gambit is set in Kentucky, USA. Most of the action in the first few episodes happen in the city of Lexington. Still, most of the series was filmed in Berlin in late 2019 and, a few additional scenes were shot in Ontario, Canada.
The Queen’s Gambit Orphanage: Discovering Schloss Schulzendorf
One of the core places in the series is the orphanage where a young Beth, played by Isla Johnston, learns how to play chess in the basement with the custodian. Also, this is where she gets addicted to some green pills. Most of the scenes in the first episodes were shot at the Schloss Schulzendorf, but some CGI turned the location into something a little different, based on the photos you can see here.
For us, the most significant change is in the tower. In real life, it looks more like something out of medieval times. In Queen’s Gambit, the outlook was changed to look closely related to the building decoration. Following the same style on the roof and in the windows.
While researching about the Schloss Schulzendorf, we found out that this historical place is way more interesting than we expected. If you came here just for Queen’s Gambit Locations, you might want to go straight to the map at the end of the article. Now, we are going to talk about the history of the Schloss Schulzendorf.
A little bit of history from the Schloss Schulzendorf
The first construction in the area was built back in the late 17th century, and it belonged to David Gottlob von Gersdorf. He was a man with military experience and governor of the Spandau Citadel. He sold the property to King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, who held the estate for a century before selling it to Eberhard von der Recke, the civil governor of Saxony. He is the person responsible for the small church located close to the Schloss Schulzendorf.
In the 19th century, Schloss Schulzendorf changed hands two more times. First to Meyer Jacobson and, finally, to Moritz Israel, who was one of the heirs to the Kaufhaus Nathan Israel. This was the first department store in Berlin and probably the largest. It used to be located close to where the Rotes Rathaus.
Moritz Israel sold his shares of the department store to buy the property where the Schloss Schulzendorf can be found. In 1889, the building you can see today started being constructed in a Renaissance style. The most distinguishing feature of the building, its tower, was build during this time and, for us, looks a bit out of place. Somehow, it seems like an old school medieval castle tower, and it doesn’t follow the style of the rest of the Schloss.
After construction was done, Schloss Schulzendorf was given as a gift to Moritz Israel son, Richard, and his new wife, Bianca Cohn, as a wedding gift. The couple lived in the property for a long time, and they were responsible for a lot of the development in the surrounding village. But it all changed when the Nazis took power in 1933.
As we all know, being Jewish in Nazi Germany wasn’t easy or safe. Worried about their family safety, Richard and Bianca used their money to help their children and grandchildren escape the country and, in 1939, they lost the Schloss Schulzendorf. They were deported to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Richard Israel died there in 1943, and Bianca Cohn survived to live twenty years more in Hanover. His name is remembered in Schulzendorf.
During the Kristallnacht, the Kaufhaus Nathan Israel was ransacked, and the store was handed over to a non-Jewish family. It was only after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, that descendants of the original owners began to be compensated for their losses. Including the Schloss Schulzendorf.
Schloss Schulzendorf had a similar fate. Since it was located in the Soviet Occupied part of Germany, it became part of East Germany after the end of the Second World War. It was part of the state, but we couldn’t find any information about its use during those years. In 1993, the property was returned to the Israel family, who own the place today.
The Methuen Home orphanage is in fact the Schloss Schulzendorf
When we visited the Schloss Schulzendorf, we were just looking for Queen’s Gambit locations. Still, we found a piece of history that is more interesting than the series. This is why we decided to write an entire article about this place.
Suppose you want to learn more about the Schloss Schulzendorf. In that case, you should take a look at the thread Deborah Cole wrote about it, and Castheholic has a lot of information about it as well.
If you want to visit the building and take some pictures of one of the most exciting places used on Queen’s Gambit, you should take a look at the map below. Arriving, it’s easy and straightforward.