Tens of thousands of motorists hustle back and forth along interstate 70 in Missouri every single day. From Kansas City to Saint Louis, there are many small towns that the majority of drivers blow on by without a second thought.
As part of our special Missouri Roads series – I continue to be introduced to places in the show-me-state where great things are happening. One of those towns is Fulton.
Only about a 5 minute detour off of the interstate, the community best known for its ties to Winston Churchill, has plenty to brag about. Great restaurants, unique shops and galleries plus two well respected colleges. Beyond the attractions worthy of a side trip off the main highway, Fulton is bustling with creative, talented, and incredibly successful business owners who choose Fulton as their home base.
The jewelry company Creating Unkamen is one of the top Etsy retailers and suppliers in the world. They specialize in “jump rings” that are used for bracelets, necklaces and other crafty designs. (It will come as a surprise to no one that I had no clue what a jump ring was until my visit.)
Organized in what seemed like a million different bottles with every color under the sun, they fill orders world wide. Owner Karen Helmrich moved her business to Fulton after being tipped off to what wound up as the perfect location for her new headquarters. She credits much of her success to listening to customers. (She was in the process of personally responding to more than 50 e-mails that came in on the day of our visit.)
A short walk down the street is the headquarters for Beth Snyder’s greeting card company – onecanoetwo. Just beyond a small gift shop, Snyder and her team create cards and other products that are sold online and around the U.S. in retail locations. Snyder, a natural leader and entrepreneur, got her start in design even before college earning money for various design projects. “I had $40,000 in my savings account by the time I finished high school.”
The employees of both creative companies can’t rave enough about their small town bosses.
Artistic energy in Fulton is hard to miss. Whether it’s browsing the small shops, walking through the Art House in the downtown Brick District, or visiting with Carolyn Linton who builds furniture from the wood of old barns.
Ms. Linton owns the Green Meadow Barn Company where she re-purposes the remains of barns from central Missouri. Her gallery, which can be seen by appointment, is full of incredible pieces like tables, desks and small boxes designed to hold a bottle of wine. As a special touch, Linton hand writes a short note on each piece to tell where the wood came from.
Things To Do
Within clear view of interstate 70, motorists can spot the Auto World Museum. While it doesn’t look like much more than an over sized garage on the outside, the private collection of rare classic vehicles makes the museum worth a visit.
The founder of Backer Potato Chip Company, William Backer had a soft spot for beautiful, vintage vehicles and collected as many as he could. Over 100 exist in the collection and many of them are rare enough that their value can extend well beyond the $100,000 mark. Some are restored and others are just the way they were the day they drove their last mile.
Fulton made a lasting impression on the world in 1946 when it welcomed former Prime Minister Winston Churchill to speak. He would deliver the historic “iron curtain speech”, an address that led to the start of the Cold War. 20 years after the speech, Westminster College marked the occasion by moving a church – from London all the way to Missouri. St. Mary the Virgin Aldermanbury had been in London since 1677. Badly damaged, it was relocated in pieces and rebuilt brick by brick in Fulton.
Outside the museum you’ll find a sculpture designed by Churchill’s granddaughter. The sculpture, carved from a section of the Berlin Wall, is the largest piece of the original wall that still exists outside of Berlin.
Beneath the church, the National Churchill Museum has the largest collection of Churchill artifacts in North America. The museum has received renewed interest after the release of the hit film Darkest Hour.
Another fun stop, currently in the works is the restoration of the Brick District Playhouse. The theater which first opened in the late 1920’s is being refurbished to house performances and events. A true town effort, many of the improvements have been done by folks within the community, and much of the funds needed has been raised locally as well. Once completed – it will be a true gem of downtown Fulton.
Fulton is an extremely walkable town. And for a town its size, it has some impressive dining options that any true foodie will appreciate. Brooklyn Pizza – is a favorite of pizza lovers. The authentic Brooklyn style pizzeria owned by former Brooklyn residents. Another option is Beks – a casual dining establishment with a terrific menu. Be sure to try some of the favorite appetizers – including bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers.
The amount of food options alone make it worthwhile to pull off the highway if you’re traveling between KC and STL.
Stay For A Weekend?
If you’re interested in more than just a quick stop off the highway, you could absolutely enjoy a fun weekend in Fulton!
For a unique, comfortable home base during your visit – consider staying at the Loganberry Inn. The welcoming bed and breakfast is a 5 minute walk from the National Churchill Museum. The Inn’s claim to fame (besides having an awesome gathering area complete with fireplace) is that Margaret Thatcher once stayed there.
It’s a perfect location to explore Fulton as well as nearby Missouri towns like Jefferson City and Herman.
Looking for more information about Fulton? Check out their tourism website: visitfulton.com