Mission Inn, Riverside, California
|Location:||3649 Mission Inn Ave, Riverside, California|
|Architectural style:||Mission/Spanish Revival|
|Added to NRHP:||May 14, 1971|
|Designated NHL:||May 5, 1977|
The Mission Inn, now known as The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, is a historic landmark hotel in downtown Riverside, California. Although a composite of many architectural styles, it is generally considered the largest Mission Revival Style building in the United States.
The property began as a small, cottage hotel called the "Glenwood Hotel" built by civil engineer Christopher Columbus Miller in 1876. In 1902, Miller's son Frank changed the name to the "Mission Inn" and started building, in a variety of styles, until he died in 1935.
Miller's vision for the eclectic structure was drawn from many historical design periods, revivals, influences, and styles. Some are Spanish Gothic architecture, Mission Revival Style architecture, Moorish Revival architecture, Spanish Colonial style architecture, Spanish Colonial Revival Style architecture, Renaissance Revival architecture, and Mediterranean Revival Style architecture. With one section over another, addition upon addition, the result is a complicated and intricately built structure, comparable to the Winchester House. It contains narrow passageways, exterior arcades, a medieval-style clock, a five-story rotunda, numerous patios and windows, castle towers, minarets, a Cloister Wing (with catacombs), flying buttresses, Mediterranean domes and a pedestrian skybridge among many other features.
Part of the complexity is an unexpected change of scale as Miller tailored certain portions of the property for his short sister. Another reason for the complexity is the variety of architectural styles.
During the 30-year construction period Miller traveled the world, collecting treasures to bring back to the hotel for display. The various museum-quality artifacts on the property has an estimated value of over $5 million.
The St. Francis Chapel houses four large, stained-glass windows and two original mosaics by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Mexican-Baroque styled "Rayas Altar" is 25 feet tall by 16 feet across, carved from cedar and completely covered in gold leaf. For his "Garden of Bells," Miller collected over 800 bells, including one dating from the year 1274 described as the "oldest bell in Christendom."
In 1932, Frank Miller opened the St. Francis Atrio containing the "Famous Fliers’ Wall", which was used to recognize notable aviators. On March 20, 1942, WWI ace Eddie Rickenbacker was honored at the Inn, becoming the fifty-seventh flier added to the monument. Today, 151 fliers or groups of fliers are honored by having their signatures etched onto 10-inch-wide (250 mm) copper wings attached to the wall.
Frank Miller died in 1935 and the Inn continued under the management of his daughter and son-in-law, Allis and DeWitt Hutchings, who died in 1956. The Inn then went through a series of ownership changes and some of its older rooms were converted to apartments.
The hotel was later acquired by the Carley Capital Group and was closed for renovations in 1985 at a cost of $55 million. Newly discovered structural problems cost more than expected and caused the company to fall behind on loan payments to a New York bank. Just weeks before its planned opening in December 1988 as the Omni Mission Inn, work on the nearly completed hotel was halted as a result. In December 1992, the Inn was sold to Duane R. Roberts, a Riverside businessman and lover of the Inn. Roberts completed the renovations and it was reopened to the public shortly thereafter.
With its widely varying styles, the Mission Inn was designed by multiple architects. Frank Miller selected Arthur B. Benton to design the original building. Miller chose Myron Hunt to design the Spanish Wing added to the rear of the main building. He later hired G. Stanley Wilson to design the St. Francis Chapel. Wilson also added a rotunda featuring circular staircases and a dome.
Notable guests 
For 125 years it has been the center of Riverside, host to a number of seasonal and holiday functions, as well as occasional political functions and other major social gatherings. Pat and Richard Nixon were married at one of the two wedding chapels, Nancy and Ronald Reagan honeymooned there, and eight other US Presidents have visited the Inn: Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and George W. Bush.
Social leaders that have stopped at the Mission Inn include Susan B. Anthony, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Collis and Henry Huntington, Albert Einstein, Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst, Hubert H. Bancroft, Harry Chandler, Booker T. Washington, Helen Keller and John Muir.
The list of entertainers who have toured the Inn is extensive; Lillian Russell, Sarah Bernhardt and Harry Houdini were early visitors to Frank Miller’s hotel. Other guests have included actors such as Ethel Barrymore, Charles Boyer, Eddie Cantor, Mary Pickford, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis (who was married at the Inn in 1945), W. C. Fields, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Fess Parker, James Brolin and Barbra Streisand, Raquel Welch and Drew Barrymore. Other celebrities such as Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard and Tears for Fears have stopped by.
The Inn continues to be a getaway for notable individuals to this day; Arnold Schwarzenegger has stayed there during his tenure as Governor of California and the Osbournes have also paid a visit in the past few years.
Popular culture 
In 1909 Carrie Jacobs-Bond wrote the lyrics for her famous song "A Perfect Day" while staying in the Mission Inn. For many years the Mission Inn's carillon played "A Perfect Day" as the last tune each evening.
American author Anne Rice so enjoyed the Inn she incorporated it into her 2009 book Angel Time. The book is the first in Rice's Songs of the Seraphim series, which tells the story of Toby O'Dare, an assassin with a tragic past, who uses the Mission Inn as his refuge.
The Inn's unique architecture and ambiance have attracted many film makers. Film shoots at the Inn include 1938's Idiot's Delight with Clark Gable, 1969's Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here with Robert Redford, 1988's Vibes with Jeff Goldblum, Black Samurai with Jim Kelly, and 1998's The Man in the Iron Mask with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Eddie Money filmed the music video of "Think I'm In Love" at the Inn.
The Sliders season 3 episodes 16 and 17 ("Exodus", parts I and II) were shot extensively in the Mission Inn, which played as a military base.
Seasonal events 
Festival of Lights 
Of its seasonal functions, the Festival of Lights is well known for its nearly three million Christmas lights, and over 400 animated figures. Although the Festival lasts all throughout the holiday season, the day after Thanksgiving is the lighting ceremony. On this day city officials and the owner of the hotel, Duane Roberts, give speeches before fireworks light up the sky and nearly 65,000 people attend annually to view the unique hotel and its holiday decorations. During the festival of lights, decorations including musical angels, carolers on the balconies, and a Santa Claus climbing the chimney are featured.
Ghost Walk Riverside 
The hotel is rumored to be haunted because of alleged paranormal activity. Each year before Halloween the hotel participates with Ghost Walk Riverside, a fundraiser for the California Riverside Ballet. The Othersiders recently investigated the hotel in 2009.
The hotel, which occupies an entire city block, has 4 restaurants, a day spa and 239 guest rooms (nine rooms designated as presidential suites). It is a National Historic Landmark, a California Historical Landmark, and Riverside City Landmark #1. The hotel's aesthetic charm makes it a frequent subject for local artists.
Bella Trattoria, a small Italian bistro located on the adjacent Main Street pedestrian walking mall, serves Southern Italian Cuisine. Duane’s Prime Steaks and Seafood Restaurant is the Inland Empire’s only AAA Four Diamond awarded restaurant. Las Campanas Mexican Cuisine & Cantina has outdoor dining in a landscaped garden with fountains and fire pits. The Mission Inn Restaurant has dining inside the restaurant and on the Spanish Patio, with views of the hotel's clock tower and ornate four-story courtyard. The Presidential Lounge is the hotel’s main cocktail lounge, with live jazz and portraits of each of the visiting presidents.
Community activism 
The Mission Inn has on a number of occasions served as a public place of political protest, often to greet visitors like former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Mission Inn Museum 
The Mission Inn Museum promotes the cultural heritage of the Mission Inn. Visitors are led on guided tours that highlight the inn's architecture, stained glass, furniture, art, textiles and other cultural resources. Permanent exhibits feature the history of the inn and its founders, and the museum offers changing exhibits and educational programs.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mission Inn|
- Hall, Joan H. Through the Doors of the Mission Inn. Highgrove Press, Riverside, California. 1996. ISBN 0-9631618-2-2.
- Hall, Joan H. Through the Doors of the Mission Inn; Volume Two. Highgrove Press, Riverside, California. 2000. ISBN 0-9631618-3-0.
- Klotz, Esther. The Mission Inn: Its History and Artifiacts. Rubidoux Printing, Riverside, California. 1981.
- Moore, Barbara (editor). Historic Mission Inn. Friends of the Mission Inn, Riverside, California. 1998. ISBN 0-9666914-0-7
- Parks, Walter P. "The Famous Fliers' Wall of the Mission Inn". Infinity Press, Orange, California. 2004. Library of Congress Number 86-90693
Citations and notes 
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- Riverside Cultural Heritage Board (January 2002). "Landmarks of the City of Riverside". City of Riverside. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- Lech, Steve (2007). Riverside 1870-1940. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-4716-9.
- Hall, Joan H., Through the Doors of the Mission Inn Vol. 1. Copyright Highgrove Press, Riverside, 1996.
- Hall, Volume I and II.
- The place of composition is indicated in a line inserted above the title on p. 3 of the high voice (soprano) edition published in 1938 by the Boston Music Company; this version is in the key of C. Jacobs-Bond added the tune for "A Perfect Day" during a visit to the Mojave Desert 3 months after her visit to the Mission Inn (Rick Reublein on "America's first great woman popular song composer" site).
- Mission Inn Museum site for Carrie Jacobs-Bond.
- "Viewpoints Online; Riverside's ghostly history; Halloween sheds light on Riverside's haunted history". Riverside Community College. 2009-07-19. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
- "California Riverside Ballet; Season Events; Ghost Walk". California Riverside Ballet. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
- City of Riverside Historic Districts and Buildings
- Mission Inn home page
- Mission Inn Museum home page
- Historic Hotels description page
- National Historic Landmark description page