Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Westminster Gymnasium

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Institution Name: Westminster College (MO)
Original/Historic Place Name: Westminster Gymnasium
Location on Campus: between Westminster Hall and Washington West House (on campus)
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1928-1929original construction Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick (Flemish bond)
Roof: slate
ca. 1929-present (2007)gymnasium

Significance: history
Landmark designation:
National RegisterWestminster College Gymnasium (1968)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

In 1946, Westminster College, a small liberal arts college in Fulton, Missouri, invited former British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, who was planning a trip to the United States after his party's defeat in 1945, to deliver a speech on campus. Churchill accepted the invitation, largely because President Harry S. Truman would be in attendance and would introduce him.

For one day, Westminster College--a small college in the American heartland--became "the center of the world." On March 5, 1946, Churchill delivered "The Sinews of Peace" in the presence of President Truman and 2,800 others in the Westminster College Gymnasium.

Considered one of Churchill's most important speeches, "Sinews of Peace" described for the first time the "iron curtain" that had descended across Europe. Despite initial negative reactions from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, the speech later proved definitive for Allied foreign policy. It was the first public indication of a change in the policy of the West toward the Soviet Union, preparing the way for the Truman Doctrine, or so-called containment policy of March 1947, and later for N.A.T.O.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Lamkin, Charles Feckler. A Great Small College: A Narrative History of Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri. St. Louis, MO: Horace Barks Press, 1946.

McDermott, John D., and Erwin N. Thompson, "Westminster College Gymnasium (Site of Winston Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' Speech), Fulton, Missouri." Special Report, Historic Sites Survey, 1968.

Muller, James W. ed. Churchill's "Iron Curtain" Speech Fifty Years Later. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1999.

Nunn, Bill. The Words and the Man. Fulton and Loose Creek, MO: Winston Churchill Memorial and Library and Westphalia Press, [n.d.].

Hollrah, Warren, Ann Stimble, Eve Saunders, and Karen Grace. Westminster College Gymnasium. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1968.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Government Offices

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Last update: November 2006