The Vault - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

The Vault

A Hackleburg landmark that was destroyed by a tornado now has new direction. (Source: WAFF) A Hackleburg landmark that was destroyed by a tornado now has new direction. (Source: WAFF)
HACKLEBURG, AL (WAFF) - The local bank stood on the corner in Hackleburg for generations. The bank and the location have a rich history but the biggest challenge was the tornado damage a few years ago. 

The owner, Judy Wolfe, also remembers that frightening time in Hackleburg history.

"When the storm came it was an EF-5," says Wolfe. "In fact, it took out not just the roof of this and the walls and everything but it took out most of the town."

The historical significance of this business and the building can be measured by a copper benchmark on the outside of the building.  It's something all the civil engineers were looking for when the tornados came through and leveled the town.

After the devastating tornado, only the bank vault remained intact. Sharon Dickinson, who owned the bank building 10 years prior, wanted the building made into a historical museum. But when that didn't happen, Judy Wolfe had an idea for a restaurant.  

"Make it a place where people could come and sit and people could enjoy being here," says Wolfe. "I'm hoping the young people will come here and hang because we don't have a lot in town for them to do." 

Wolfe says they followed as closely as possible the original plans when rebuilding to sustain it as a historical site. They built it all around the vault, hence the name.

"This bank has withstood two tornados. I heard in 1943 there was also one. I think it was an EF-3 at that time," says Wolfe, "and this is still safe and if we have another one we're going to run inside this vault. The walls are 18 inches thick."

Business at The Vault has since prospered. 

Don Terrell and Dwayne Lewis are regulars here. Terrell says, "It surprised me. I really didn't think there was anything that could be done to it. But they've really done a job on it."  

Lewis agrees, "I come here from Tuesday to Fridays. Every day, enjoy it."

And there are little reminders of the past as people gather to enjoy the present and hope for the future.

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