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story.lead_photo.caption Historic Randles Court Owner Jennifer Hart works on some business documents in the lobby of the hotel in Eldon. The facility is back open after suffering heavy damage from the May 22, 2019, tornado that hit Eldon. Photo by Jeff Haldiman / News Tribune.

They've gone through three disasters in just a few years, but the owners of a historic landmark in Eldon have persevered to reopen their business.

After May 22, 2019, the planned reopening of the Historic Randles Court was canceled due to extensive damage to the building by the EF-3 tornado that struck parts of Eldon and Jefferson City. The hotel was built in the 1930s.

The business had been renovated after a fire in August 2017 at the portion of the facility that had been the former Eldon Philly Diner destroyed some of the rooms at the hotel.

An open house had been scheduled to display the seven rooms that were renovated after the fire, but the tornado canceled it.

As the tornado approached, Historic Randles Court co-owner Jennifer Hart and her family took shelter as sirens and high winds shook the windows, inviting one rental tenant into their living quarters at the hotel.

The tornado broke windows and ripped the roof from the back of their building. The hotel's sign was also destroyed.

One year later, that sign was re-lit Friday as a symbol of the commitment to keep the historic hotel in operation.

"I was concerned for a few months after the tornado that we would not be able to get to this point," Hart said Friday. "Everything that we had done was undone. It took four months for me to feel confident that we would be able to do it."

The COVID-19 public health emergency threw Hart and her husband for another loop. The hotel was closed in January and February, but they reopened the first week of March. Hart said they had some guests during that time, and then the pandemic hit.

"The past two weeks have been very encouraging, as we've had people reaching out to see how we're doing and several people wanting to know more about the historical aspect of what we've done with the facility, which is what we went into it for," Hart said.

In the lobby of the hotel are several historical pictures and displays of mementos from the hotel through the years. There are also pictures of firefighters battling the 2017 fire and of the tornado damage the facility suffered.

Hart said she could not look at those pictures for a time.

"I wouldn't read articles about those events for a long time," Hart said. "I'm just now to a point where I can start to do that, but last week, I was reviewing things from the tornado, and I sat in here and bawled for a while."

After the fire, Hart said, they had been in the market for the hotel; the restaurant wasn't really "their baby."

"We said, 'The motel is still standing, and we're going to keep going. We can make this happen,'" she said. "After the tornado hit, it was the same thing. Seeing the people come together and help us clean up the property the next day, I said, 'We have to keep going. We have not run into that brick wall yet.'"

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