The Iron Curtain Descended Here
"From Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in . . ."
. . . the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe."
The memorable words of Winston Churchill rang out on the campus of Westminster College in May 1946, as the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom gave a major foreign policy address to an audience of assembled dignitaries (and college students) - and the President of the US, Harry Truman, who had accompanied Churchill to Fulton, in his own home state of Missouri.
The Iron Curtain speech brought international attention to Fulton, and to Westminster College, and appropriately enough, Churchill is still remembered here for the important role that he played in shaping the modern world.
"A 17th Century London Church in Missouri?"
In the 1960s, the citizens of Fulton decided to commemorate Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech in a big way. They were able to obtain permission from the necessary authorities to relocate one of the bombed-out Christopher Wren Churches from the City of London, shipping it stone by stone across the Atlantic and re-assembling it on the campus of Westminister College, not far from the hall where the speech was given. St. Mary the Virgin Aldermanbury thus was reborn in central Missouri, opening in 1966 in time for the 20th anniversary commemorations of the original address.
The Church now serves a multitude of functions for the college - and the basement (crypt) houses a museum/archives dedicated to Sir Winston.
It's a beautiful building: Wren was a world-class architect. I don't know if they still do, but in the past the College used to allow weddings to take place in St. Mary the Virgin. Back in the 1990s I attended such a ceremony; and the couple gave me the honor of asking me to read a famous Shakespeare sonnet from the pulpit as part of the ceremony.
Fulton...small town with a storied past...
"A storied past..."
Fulton, Missouri is a town rich in history. Located in Callaway County, it is the county seat. Locals call the county the "Kingdom of Callaway" based on historical events during the Civil War when effectively the county "seceded" from both sides of the War.
It was founded in the mid-1820's and grew from then.
Notable author Henry Bellamann Is from here and it is widely accepted he based his book "King's Row" heavily from Fulton. A subsequent movie of the same title starring the late Ronald Reagan was made also. The book and movie inflamed many locals here because it painted an unflattering account of early Fulton.
Many notable people have visited this small town. Winston Churchill gave his famous "Iron Curtain" speech here. Others who have visited include Reagan, Gorbechev, Truman, Vice-President Dick Cheny and John Kerry.
"A modern town..."
Fulton is a friendly place. It boasts the usual amenities of a small town. The two colleges here, Westminster University and William Woods University help charge up the town during session. All in all, a nice place to visit and live.
"Page Under Construction"
I wonder how many travelers, intent on reaching their destinations of Kansas City or St. Louis, realize what a historical treasure can be found just a few miles south of Interstate 70 in Fulton, Missouri.
It was in this tiny town, at the dedication of a rebuilt London church, that Winston Churchill first coined the phrase "Iron Curtain" in a memorable speech. I encourage you to take a couple of hours to visit this quaint town, the Christopher Wren Church, and the Churchill monuments and museum.
The Berlin Wall was for years a symbol of the Iron Curtain dividing east from west. This sculpture "Breakthrough" by Churchill's granddaughter Edwina Sandys, is created from a section of the Berlin Wall, and now resides on the campus of Westminster College, only a few feet from the church where Churchill gave his historic speech.
"Historic Downtown District"
There are a few towns scattered across the middle of America that have had the good sense to maintain their downtown areas and to avoid added faux modern exteriors to their buildings. The architecture of the 1880s and 1890s was far more appealing than of the 1950s and 60s. Often, these towns designate their center to be the Historic Downtown District.
Fulton's downtown is a pleasant place to take a stroll, and you can count on the locals to greet you in passing.
Westmister College Campus
My daytrip visit to Fulton, Missouri, coincided with Alumni Day at Westminster College, so the town was jumping and the campus was in immaculate condition. And the dogwood trees were in full bloom.
This travelogue contains pictures taken as I walked around the small campus.
"White Dogwood Trees in Bloom"
"Pink Dogwoods in Bloom"
"Close-up of Pink Dogwood Tree Flowers"