Loretta and Joe Siekmann searched for a weekend getaway but wanted a place that was convenient to their Collinsville ranch home. After visiting Elsah and Grafton, they found a stone and clapboard cottage in another historic village, Maeystown.
“It just felt good when we were here,” says Loretta. “I told Joe, ‘This was it! We don’t need big; there’s not much to clean. It’s little, one bedroom and one bath.’” Joe estimates the square footage at 700 and the age at 120 years.
“We are here one to two weekends a month; we entertain, and it’s a place to get away,” she says. “A group of friends, five couples, enjoy coming for the annual German Fruehlingsfest (spring festival) and other special events. We sit on the porch and talk and visit with passers-by.”
At first the cottage needed renovation and became Joe’s retirement project in 2004. He made the 90-mile round trip from Collinsville almost daily. “I just couldn’t wait to get down here to work,” he says. He discovered that the front was a log cabin and the back was added later. He upgraded plumbing and electric and replaced window glass. He insulated and reconfigured the bath, keeping the claw foot tub and pedestal sink, and renovated the kitchen. He stripped the exterior paint and repainted it light tan with white trim.
Local craftsman Steve Smith built a big new back porch and changed the slope of the kitchen ceiling to allow a larger back door. Loretta was relieved when a new green standing tin roof replaced the old corrugated tin roof. “It looked like a chicken house before.”
She poured her talents and energy into furnishing the cottage with finds from estate and garage sales and auctions to round out a healthy collection of family pieces and memorabilia. Assembling everything from antique clocks and hurricane lamps to reverse paintings on glass and porcelain German bowls, she laughs, “I had a ball!”
“You remind me of a little girl with a dollhouse,” Joe says fondly. Loretta, in turn, appreciates Joe’s skills. “We’re very lucky he can do all this. He’s not always patient, but he wants it perfect.”
Loretta and Joe Siekmann
Home : Collinsville and Maeystown
Ages: She’s 64; he’s 65.
Occupations: She’s retired from telecommunications at Scott Air Force Base; Joe is a retired auto body manager.
Family: Married 44 years, they have two children: Dawn Roulanaitis of Smithton, and David Siekmann of Millstadt, and four grandchildren.