COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – Vintage blueprints, and a hidden door are just some of the gems that a Collinsville couple has found while restoring a historical home back to its original character.

Jeremey Martin and Bailey Lutz are the fifth owners of the 1910 era home located at 317 West Main Street. They post videos and photos of their restoration progress, as well as historical information and artifacts about the Queen Anne-style house to their Facebook page.

The first floor was originally a doctor’s office for 75 years, according to the couple, and owned by two different doctors. After that, it became a well-known flower shop called Flower Basket for 30 years.

The home’s 4,300-square-foot, three-story layout has been changed by former owners over the years to where it currently has two bedrooms and three bathrooms with a kitchen on each floor, according to the couple.

“The first owner lived in the entire home. The second floor was nothing but bedrooms, but after he passed away, the second doctor put a living room and kitchen on the second floor and then made the first floor the entire doctor’s office,” Martin said.

“The third owner had a bunch of his family members living here. His mom lived in the back of the first floor, where he had his flower shop. He (and his niece) lived on the second floor, and his sister lived on the third floor.”

Martin and Lutz are both Collinsville natives and they are no strangers to woodwork. Martin has his own construction company where he works on historic homes in St. Louis. Lutz has a string art business where she works with wood and nails.

Restoring the historical house has led the couple to become involved with their community, Lutz said. She now volunteers on a city committee that focuses on sustainability and Martin is interested in joining the Collinsville Historic Preservation Commission.

“A lot of our friends moved away after high school and we both kind of believe that if you don’t like the hometown, you think it can be improved, you should be one of the ones that steps up to improve it, and not go to a different town,” Martin said.

“I think Collinsville offers a little of everything and we just want to preserve this and have the house be a part of the community again.”

The couple is about a month into the restoration process of the first floor and they plan to keep the tradition of having a business open to the community once they are finished. Plans are still in the works as to what exactly will be there.

“Since everybody in Collinsville loves the house as much as we do, we wanted to make sure it stays open to the public,” Martin said. 

The goal is to restore the home back to its original 1910 layout and to make sure it lasts another 100 years. Some challenges so far have been updating the electrical work, Martin said.

“The house is basically a museum to how we’ve done construction in the last hundred years, so there’s some good parts to that and some bad ones,” he said.

During the restoration process, the couple has found boxes that were left behind by previous owners, containing blueprints from every time the house was renovated, as well as old receipts, a greenhouse manual, and more.

They even have found a hidden door behind a wall on the first-floor kitchen and dates that were written on transoms.

“The second doctor, Dr. Brown, he remodeled the first-floor kitchen Sept. 22, 1941. We found that written on the walls,” Martin said.

“He actually went to World War II and served in a medical corps right after he remodeled his kitchen. Every time we turn a corner, there’s something historical written down somewhere.”

Lutz mentioned that there is a different street address located on the back of the house. They found a number sign of 323 above the enclosed porch.

“There’s our big back yard and then there’s an alley, so we don’t know if maybe at one point the 323 was an address for the back of the house that was at one point kind of separated from the original part of the house. That’s been interesting,” Lutz said.

She added that community members are anxiously wanting a tour of the house but will have to wait due to the demo already in progress.

When the home is open to the community, Martin said they will offer virtual reality tours where visitors will be able to see the home as it once was back in the 1900s.

To keep track of the couple’s restoration progress, visit their Facebook page.