MAQUOKETA — Stepping down into Mac's Wine Cellar is walking into a snapshot of the community's early history.
Lights shaped like gas lanterns line the cedar walls. Milk tanks fashioned into seats rest next to tables made out of burly wooden barrels.
Sturdy, wood beams made up the ceiling, holding up a structure that was a cigar shop more than 100 years ago.
Back then, the building's designers probably never intended live music would be played in the basement. But the acoustics are surprisingly solid nonetheless.
"The sound is remarkably awesome," said Adam Beck, guitarist and vocalist for the two-piece group Amber and Adam, which plays at the cellar about once per month. "You wouldn't think it, but it sounds great."
The wine cellar's reverence for local history stems from its owners' passion for historic preservation.
Sue and Jim Mayberry opened Mac's Wine Cellar about a year and a half ago to get the full use out of the downtown building that has held their antiques store for years. But they wanted to make sure the history of the building was not forgotten.
"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing for us," Sue Mayberr said. "We realized the possibilities of what we could do."
The idea was to give Maquoketa a spot where residents can relax and drink their favorite beverages in a space that wouldn't look too different from the saloons that early settlers would stumble into a few centuries ago.
Much of the basement's original aesthetic has been preserved, including a deep impression in the wall that at one point served as a coal shaft.
You have free articles remaining.
It wasn't long after opening that the Mayberrys decided to host live music every weekend.
"It seemed like it would be a good fit," Sue Mayberry said. "There isn't a whole lot of live music in town."
Acts typically play a combination of rock and country music, which Sue Mayberry said fits well with the limited space of the venue. Occasionally, the cellar will feature something more unique, like an Irish music group on St. Patrick's Day.
Dan and Sarah Pinion of Maquoketa stop by at the wine cellar semi-regularly. For them, the look, combined with the music, makes for an inviting atmosphere.
"It just feels cozy, warm and friendly," Dan said. "What they have done with this place is impressive."
Sue Mayberry said that the wine cellar is continuing to evolve. Most recently, they began serving food.
She said she hopes that the wine bar becomes a premier location for residents looking for a good time. The building has never served as a live music venue before, but it certainly works well as one.
"We're really excited with how it has turned out," she said. "We just want everyone to have a good time and relax."