Area families looking for a getaway before school starts have a new option. The National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Mo., is reopening this weekend after being closed during the pandemic.
The museum is the only one in North America that is fully dedicated to commemorating the life of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who delivered his famous 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College. The facility reopened on Friday morning after being closed since March 2020.
“We closed for the pandemic but we chose to remain closed to accelerate some very important preservation projects, some new construction projects at the museum, some renovations,” said Timothy Rile, museum director and chief curator. “All told, we’ve invested $1.3 million into the facility.”
Most of that money has been invested in the historic Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, which was first built in the 12th century.
“The building is 50 years, 52 years in Fulton going on 900 years old when it was originally built in London,” he said. “So it needed a little nip and tuck, and we’ve done much of that, and we’re going to do even more in the year ahead.”.
The church was bombed by the Germans during World War II. After the war, it was disassembled, and more than 7,000 stones were shipped to Westminster College. The church was rebuilt to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in 1966. The groundbreaking ceremony for the church took place in Fulton in 1964, and former President Harry Truman used the first shovel at the 1964 ceremony.
One thing Fulton residents have noticed during the pandemic is that the lights in the ancient church burned brightly 24-7, to convey to the world a spirit of resilience against the pandemic. Riley quoted from a Churchill World War II speech: “If we persevere, and we will persevere, we shall come through these dark and dangerous valleys into a sunlight broader and more genial and more lasting than mankind has ever known.”
More information is available at www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice