On a below-zero night in January 2008, fire blazed through downtown Maquoketa, destroying at least five buildings. Fifteen fire departments battled the blaze for more than 12 hours, and when the smoke cleared and the ice melted, a huge pile of rubble remained – for more than two years.

Gretchen Banowetz-Mattoon grew up in Maquoketa and moved to Dubuque around the time of the fire. “It was completely devastating to drive down Main Street and see that,” she said. “I think that was a huge turning point, but in a good way… because I think downtown was maybe slowly declining. That was the rock bottom. For awhile it looked horrible, and people were depressed about it, but it was the catalyst for what is here now.”

To read this and other featured articles in their entirety, pickup the July 2017 issue of Julien’s Journal magazine. Click to subscribe, or call (563) 557-1914. Single issues are also available in print at area newsstands.


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