The ground upon which the buildings of the Vorwerk were constructed between 1800 and 1803, had been drained as of 1797. As a part of polycentric agriculture in the Oderbruch area, the farm’s principal produce consisted of meat and dairy products. The site was constructed as an isolated ornamented farm, contrary to century-long practice of three- or four-sided farms along village commons or principal roads.
Though the dairy farm was mentioned in works on Schinkel (Hans-Herbert Möller ed. Band Mark Brandenburg, Munich, 1960.), its significance as “according to Schinkel’s own judgement … the most important and singular in design of his earliest work” (Gustav Friedrich Waagen), was only brought back to public and academic attention by Goerd Peschken, whose work thereupon was published in Italian (1993) and Spanish (1994). Later Bärwinkel gained attention in collective publications (e.g. by Eckhardt Rüsch) as well as through work on Neuhardenberg.
The dairy was constructed in the shape of a Romanesque basilica, placed in a landscape garden like a folly, though designed as a functioning part of the farm. The southern wing was remodeled as a windowless, vaulted room to accommodate cool cheese storage. The corresponding northern wing held lodgings for administrative staff. The salon in the 'nave' of the first floor was used by the landowners and their guests as a destination of short outings (possibly also as a freemasons lodge), the smaller room below was used for tastings of the farm's produce, according to then fashionable 'natural' experiences.
The buildings of the manor farm were constructed from bog iron, found locally in the Oderbruch area. Conventionally and specially shaped bricks were used as a conscious element of the new "Mittelalterstyle" (Romanesque movement), which had emerged with the revival of the Marienburg in West Prussia.
The building was altered frequently throughout its history. In 1894 a second storey was added to the both side wings, and the building was extended south- and westwards. The original staircase to the salon was removed.
These alterations rendered the building so unrecognisable, that at first only the central part pf the dairy was listed as a monument. Later plastering, further alterations, and overall neglect rendered the original core utterly unrecognisable and drove the entire building to the edge of the irreparable.
Between 1990 and 1995 first measures were carried out which entailed the removal of extensions in the central and southern components of the building. This revealed Schinkel's building once more, highlighting the prevailing northern extension as a disturbing remainder of the alterations carried out in 1894. The building was furthermore divided into two properties in 1948, the border running roughly along the northern wall of the 'nave'. This is why the northern wing remains unaffected by efforts to reconstruct and restore the building to its original shape.
(dairy framed in red)