Formerly the Decker House, the Decker Hotel was brought to life by New York transplant, Mr. James Decker in 1875. Decker came into ownership of a plot of land in Iowa Territory in a town called Maquoketa. After deciding the community needed a truly great hotel, he enlisted a New York architect to make his vision a reality. While many considered Decker’s plans for the hotel extravagant, he wanted a landmark in the town that would serve as a gathering place for years to come.
As Decker predicted, the hotel became a retreat of hospitality and craftsmanship and enjoyed thriving business from salesmen, fur traders, touring politicians and occasional dignitaries. Among some of its well-known guests were Ulysses S. Grant, John Deere and more recently Norah Jones.
Maquoketa, originally Springfield, was established in 1838 in Iowa Territory. The present moniker, dating from 1844, reflects the town’s proximity to the Maquoketa River, and taps into the rich, mixed-culture heritage of the area.
Situated on the principal highway between Dubuque and Davenport, the community once claimed as many as 14 hotels to serve travelers sojourning between the two cities. The abundance of trees along its streets and avenues earned it the nickname, “The Timber City” in 1870.
Having hundreds of acres of primeval, hard-wood timber readily available, Maquoketa became a center for wood-based industry. Much of the Decker Hotel’s original furniture and woodwork was created by Maquoketa artisans, including the solid walnut staircase that still graces the building from the lobby to the third floor.
Over the years, the Decker Hotel has had a colorful history and gone through many transformations. In 1978, the Decker House Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today’s Decker Hotel is better than ever and continues to build on its past successes.
In 2015, the Maquoketa Betterment Corporation, a 501(c)(3) organization, purchased the property and continues to expand its role saving a historic landmark. Renovations are continuing along with the addition of many modern amenities.
The Maquoketa Betterment Corporation is committed to the continuous improvement of the hotel.