For Eclectic resident Jason Lett, his family barn that was destroyed by the January 2019 tornado stood as a reminder of his childhood.
Today it has been rebuilt to honor all the memories that it created over the years.
“I remember playing around the barn as a kid,” he said. “It was always fun getting into the barn and playing.”
The barn was built in the 1940s by Lett’s grandparents, Alonza and Evelyn Lett. It functioned as a working barn until the mid to late 1990s.
Lett said his father, Larry, inherited the barn around 25 years ago and began hanging Christmas lights on it about 15 years ago.
“I’d never seen my dad hang Christmas lights until one day the barn had lights,” Lett said.
Lett’s father passed away in 2013, but Lett continued the family tradition of hanging the white lights every year since.
Fast forward to January 2019 and Lett was looking at plans to restore the old barn. It sustained damage from a wind storm a few years prior.
The Jan. 19 EF-2 tornado that originated in Wetumpka traveled over 13 miles to Lett’s property.
Lett was working at his business, Lake Martin Mini Mall, and turned on the television to see the path of the tornado was pointed at his property.
“I was on the phone with a neighbor before the tornado hit,” he said. “We lost contact for 10 minutes. During that time is right when it came across our property.”
He said there are six houses, each located 100 yards or less away from the barn, that received no major damage.
“It was a weird feeling not being there, but being there would have been just as bad or worse,” Lett said. “Our neighbor called back and said everything was fine at our house. She walked around a tree and saw the barn was down.”
Today, a new barn sits in the same location as the previous barn.
Lett and his family made sure to design a barn similar in shape to the old barn and hang the white Christmas lights to honor the past.
“The lights are always a reminder of the tradition of what we do,” he said.
Lett is in the process of finishing out the interior to accommodate his growing family.
“We are going to create a living space in the new barn,” he said. “As our kids get older, they can come home to stay and create memories of that space to keep the tradition going.”