50th Anniversary Celebration Generates 148 Million Media Impressions

Sculpture of Sir Winston Churchill by Franta Belsky and the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury at America's National Churchill Museum

America’s National Churchill Museum on the Westminster College campus found itself once again on the world stage during its 50th anniversary from May 3 through May 5. Headlines about the monumental celebration were generated from the L.A. Times to the New York Times and in countless publications in between.

In all, more than 250 publications published stories on the event, which celebrated the anniversary of the dedication of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, and the undercroft area, which is now America’s National Churchill Museum.

The historic Sir Christopher Wren church was shipped stone by stone from England and described by the London Times as “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in the history of architecture.” The dedication ceremony took place on May 7, 1969.

A headline maker at the time, the 1969 dedication ceremony commemorated Sir Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech on the Westminster campus on March 5, 1946. Former President Harry Truman turned the symbolic first shovel for the reconstruction of the church on April 19, 1964. Truman also happened to be the one who invited Churchill to Westminster in the first place. U.S. President at the time, Truman described Westminster was “a wonderful school in my home state.” The rest is history.

Churchill’s speech put Westminster on the map. Today the small college on the middle of Missouri continues to make headlines. The 50th anniversary of the re-hallowing of the memorial to Churchill’s famous presentation generated more than 148 million impressions in traditional print publications, broadcast news, and online media coverage.

“The media response to the 50th anniversary celebration is proof positive that resilience, audacity, and vision — all traits exemplified by the College’s bold decision to create a permanent memorial to Winston Churchill — continue to strike a chord after five decades in Fulton,” says Timothy Riley, Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator of America’s National Churchill Museum.

Riley adds that Museum admissions are up 27 percent, interest in Churchill and the historic church remain high, and the recent milestone anniversary event raised $850,000 toward the preservation of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, and Museum programs.

“All of this bodes well for the Museum and Westminster as we begin our second half century,” Riley explains.

See the graphic below for more statistics on the media impact the National Churchill Museum and Westminster continue to experience as a result of the 50th anniversary celebration.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.