Sir Winston Churchill is undoubtably one of the most famous Brits of all time, heroically leading the United Kingdom to victory in World War II. Which is why it’s rather odd to find a museum commemorating the former prime minister situated more than 4,000 miles away from London, in the small town of Fulton in the middle of Missouri.
Still, there is a good reason for erecting the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, albeit little-known outside the area. The town is home to the Westminster College campus, where Churchill gave his famous “Sinews of Peace” speech in 1946, in which he coined the term “Iron Curtain” and, according to some historians, effectively began the Cold War.
“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent,” Churchill told the audience at Westminster College, going on to propose an alliance between the U.S. and Britain against this rising enemy.
That this historic—and as it turned out, quite prescient—address was given in Fulton was no accident; he was invited by President Harry Truman, a Missouri native. According to the Chicago Tribune, as Churchill’s car pulled into town he asked the driver to stop so he could light a cigar, “because,” he said, “people will expect me to have a cigar.”
The National Churchill Museum (formerly called the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library) is housed in a 17th-century church, St. Mary’s Aldermanbury, that was destroyed in the London “Blitz.” It was brought stone by stone from London all the way to Missouri, where it was reassembled in what the London Times called “perhaps the biggest jigsaw puzzle in the history of architecture.”
The podium that Churchill stood at while delivering the Iron Curtain speech is on display at the museum, which also screens footage of the speech. This unassuming church on the edge of campus is trove of Churchillian knowledge, chronicling the story of the leader’s remarkable life. Some say this hidden gem is even better than the Churchill museum in London.