Westminster College and America’s National Churchill Museum Receive $1.9 Million EDA Grant for Structural Improvements
Sarah Rummel Backer
Fulton, MO ‒ July 21, 2022
Westminster College and America’s National Churchill Museum are pleased to announce they were awarded a $1.9 million grant this week from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to boost regional tourism.
Funded by the American Rescue Plan, the grant ensures necessary improvements take place at the historic Museum, built on the campus of Westminster College as a memorial to Winston Churchill’s historic “Iron Curtain” speech delivered there in 1946.
A press release issued by the EDA on July 19 said post-pandemic recovery is the focus of the grant, which the Biden-Harris Administration recognize as vital to the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sector.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson added that the grant award is great news for Westminster College and the greater central Missouri region. He said, “America’s National Churchill Museum in Fulton is a prized tourist destination in the heart of Missouri, and this grant will help ensure it remains. We appreciate this investment and look forward to the economic benefit it will bring to the region.”
The EDA investment will be matched with approximately $2 million of bond funds totaling $3 million that were previously raised by Westminster College. Timothy Riley, the Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Curator of America’s National Churchill Museum, explains that the federal/local support and contributions will together allow the Museum to continue with stone preservation work, water mitigation efforts, and other structural repairs on the historic building, which has a storied and unusual history.
The Museum itself is located in the undercroft of a 17th century church ― St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury ― that was shipped stone by stone from London after laying in ruins following the German Blitz of World War II.
Prior to the bombing, the structure had been completely renovated by royal architect Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London. Riley notes the ancient building includes an original staircase leading to the church’s bell tower that is believed to date back to the 12th century.
The original limestone exterior walls of the building must be treated with great care, from the mortar used to fuse the stones together to the deck surrounding the building.
“America’s National Churchill Museum is extremely grateful for both the EDA and Westminster College for making it possible to continue our work to preserve and protect this treasured and historic attraction. It will allow us to serve an ever-growing number of visitors.” Riley says, adding that the Museum witnessed a 33 percent growth in admissions between 2016 and 2019.
And then COVID-19 hit.
The Museum, like most throughout the world, shuttered its doors for more than a year.
“This historic site attracts tourists from all over the world, and as such, it causes a financial ripple effect, as individuals and families traveling to visit the Museum make hotel reservations, eat in local restaurants, purchase fuel, and shop in our stores,” Riley explains. “We know this grant award is an important investment in a long-term effort to make the structural improvements, but also to strengthen our position as an economic engine via tourism in the region.”
He adds that the Museum will continue to secure additional contributions as part of its High Roads of the Future fundraising campaign, which is expected to raise $10 million.
Westminster College President and Chief Transformation Officer Donald P. Lofe, Jr., says he is highly grateful for the grant award and hopes knowledge of both it and the Museum’s improvement efforts are tangible evidence to the local community of the hard work the College is putting into improving and being part of the to the City of Fulton, Callaway County, and the Missouri state region, overall.
“This grant is very significant to both the Museum and this historic institution,” Lofe says. “On behalf of Westminster College, I would like to thank all those who worked so hard on this important team effort. We look forward to watching the improvements as they are made, and in the meantime, we invite the community to visit and see for themselves what a treasure we have here on our campus.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Sarah Backer at 573-220-9038 or Sarah.Backer@WCMO.edu.
View this article on the Westminster College news site.