For history buffs, then a trip to Fulton is a must. This small Missouri town is just south of 1-70 and a short drive from Columbia and Jefferson City, the state capitol. It is an easy day trip from both St. Louis or Kansas City.
Here at Westminster College, on March 5, 1946, nine months after leaving office as Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain Speech which is one of his most famous post-war speeches. If not for the encouragement from President Harry Truman from Missouri, it is doubtful that Churchill would have ever seen the college’s invitation to speak, let alone accepted it. There was a postscript at the bottom of that letter that said, “This is a wonderful school in my home state. I hope you can do it. I’ll introduce you. Harry Truman.” Churchill went to Fulton and Truman took took the train with him and introduced him.
Titled the Sinews of Peace, the famous line became “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” Since that time several US Presidents and Vice Presidents, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev have all come to Westminster to speak on global affairs in the tradition of Churchill. As a graduate of the college, I have been fortunate to hear Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey, Thatcher and Gorbachev.
The highlight of your visit is the National Churchill Museum and the Sir Christopher Wren Church, St. Mary the Virgin Aldermanbury. Re-built by Wren in 1677 after the Great London Fire, it was bombed out during the Nazi blitz during WWII. In the late 1960s, the stones from the destroyed church were numbered and brought to Fulton where it was re-built in honor of Churchill and to commemorate his Iron Curtain speech. The 50th anniversary of the church/museum was celebrated in May, 2019. It is one of the most authentic Wren churches anywhere today with stunning glass, wooden carvings and wonderful organ. My love of travel started in 1972 when on my first trip to Europe, I studied Wren’s architecture for an independent study and saw the majority of his London churches, and his famous buildings in Oxford, Greenwich and Chelsea. I met with the architect who re-designed the church and the maker of the new organ.
The museum has many of his paintings and exhibits on Churchill and his speech. I met his daughter Lady Mary Soames when she came to the college to dedicate the reading room in honor of her mother. Another highlight is the sculpture from 1990 by Churchill’s granddaugher Edwina Sandy’s created from graffiti covered panels of the Berlin Wall. The sculpture “Breakthrough”, 11 ft. high and 30 ft. long, is located adjacent to the Wren church which features the cutouts of a male and female form. Of significance is that when Gorbachev spoke at the college, he walked through the panels of the wall and spoke in front of it to the large crowd below. Please check out the calendar to make sure you can attend a service or concert performance in the church.
Just by chance, I recently found the cutouts of the male and female forms from the Breakthrough sculpture outside the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, NY!
If you want to eat in Fulton, then check out Beks, downtown, at 511 Court Street. This is a fun gastropub and steakhouse open for lunch or dinner, right in the heart of downtown.
Make sure to stop in at the old fashioned soda fountain at Saults Drug Store downtown at 505 Court St.
For those wanting to stay in Fulton, the the Loganberry Inn, a block from the church and museum, is a great option. I have stayed there three or four times. You can even stay in the room where Margaret Thatcher slept when she was there in 1996. The owners are great as are the breakfasts. The victorian home is from 1899 and located at 310 W. 7th St.
Next time I want to try The Barnyard Smokehouse for great BBQ at 5009 Pendergras Rd. and Ohana Pizzeria for pizza and Italian specialties at 61 W. 2nd St.