The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mission Inn
MissionInn SpanishWing.jpg
Mission Inn, Riverside, California
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is located in California
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is located in the US
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
Location 3649 Mission Inn Ave, Riverside, California
Coordinates 33°59′00″N 117°22′22″W / 33.98333°N 117.37278°W / 33.98333; -117.37278Coordinates: 33°59′00″N 117°22′22″W / 33.98333°N 117.37278°W / 33.98333; -117.37278
Built 1902–1932[2]
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Mission/Spanish Revival
Restored 1985–1992
Restored by Carley Capital Group and Duane Roberts
NRHP Reference # 71000173[1]
CHISL # 761
RIVL # 1
Significant dates
Added to NRHP May 14, 1971
Designated NHL May 5, 1977
Clock overlooking the Spanish Wing.
Mission Spanish Revival style interior
Skybridge between buildings

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. Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[3]

The owners are Duane and Kelly Roberts. Kelly serves as Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Mission Inn, overseeing its daily operations.


The property began as a quaint adobe boarding house called "The Glenwood Cottage", built by engineer/surveyor Christopher Columbus Miller and on November 22, 1876, the Miller’s took their first paying guest. In February 1880, Miller's son Frank Augustus Miller purchased the hotel and land from his father. It blossomed into a full-service hotel in the early 1900s due to California's economic citrus boom and warm weather, attracting wealthy travelers and investors from East Coast and Europe.[4] In 1902, Miller's son Frank Augustus Miller changed the name to the "Glenwood 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. 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 sky bridge among many other features.

During the 30-year construction period Miller traveled the world, collecting treasures to bring back to the hotel for display.

The St. Francis Chapel houses four large, stained-glass windows and two original mosaics by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1906. The windows were salvaged from the Madison Square Presbyterian Church and the chapel purpose built to house them. 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 1247 described as the "oldest bell in Christendom."

In 1932, Frank Miller opened the St. Francis Atrio. The "Famous Fliers' Wall", added by Miller’s son-in-law DeWitt Hutchings, was used to recognize notable aviators, including Amelia Earhart. On March 20, 1942, World War I 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.[5] The Inn then went through a series of ownership changes and some of its older rooms were converted to apartments and used as dorms for UC Riverside. In the early 1960s, St. John's College considered buying it as a location for its western campus but abandoned negotiations when John Gaw Meem donated land in Santa Fe.

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. This caused work on the nearly completed hotel to be halted, just weeks before its planned opening in December 1988 as the Omni Mission Inn. In December 1992, the Inn was sold to Duane Roberts, a Riverside businessman and lover of the Inn. Roberts completed the renovations and it was reopened to the public shortly thereafter.

Today, the AAA Four Diamond Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa continues to reflect the original splendor initiated by founder Frank Miller, under the ownership of Kelly and Duane Roberts. The hotel offers multiple upscale dining options, fitness center, Conde Nast award-winning Kelly’s Spa, outdoor pool, and museum.

The Roberts have garnered numerous awards and accolades in the 25 years they have owned The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. They have also created popular seasonal celebrations such as the Festival of Lights, and the Pumpkin Stroll.


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[edit]

For 140 years the Mission Inn has been the center of Riverside, host to U.S. Presidents, celebrities, a number of seasonal and holiday functions, as well as occasional political functions and other major social gatherings.[6] Pat and Richard Nixon were married in what is now the Presidential Lounge, Nancy and Ronald Reagan honeymooned there, and eight other U.S. 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 who have stopped at the Mission Inn include Susan B. Anthony, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, 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[edit]

In 1909 Carrie Jacobs-Bond wrote the lyrics for her famous song "A Perfect Day" while staying in the Mission Inn.[7] For many years the Mission Inn's carillon played "A Perfect Day" as the last tune each evening.[8] In 2016, the Mission Inn announced the return of daily performances of "A Perfect Day" as part of its commitment to preserve the history of the hotel.

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, 1975's The Wild Party with Raquel Welch and James Coco, Billy Wilder's 1981 comedy Buddy Buddy with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, 1988's Vibes with Jeff Goldblum, 1977's 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[edit]

Festival of Lights[edit]

Lights along Orange Street

What began in 1992 as a small holiday lighting ceremony has turned into what USA Today’s coined the "Best Public Lights Display" in the United States. The event was created by the Roberts as a gift back to the community. The entire hotel illuminates with over 4.5 million twinkling lights, 200 animated figurines and holiday characters, the world’s largest man-made mistletoe, fresh fallen snow, 19' live noble fir Christmas Tree, and gingerbread village. The annual tradition event commences the day after Thanksgiving. The Inn features an opening-night ceremony and fireworks. The Festival of Lights culminates on January 6 every year in honor of the birthday of the Inn’s Owner, Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Kelly Roberts.

Ghost Walk Riverside[edit]

Each year before Halloween the hotel participates with Ghost Walk Riverside, a fundraiser for the California Riverside Ballet.[9] The Othersiders featured the hotel in a 2009 episode.


Don O'Neill, Mission Inn Towers. Watercolor.

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.[10] The hotel's aesthetic charm makes it a frequent subject for local artists.


The hotel features four award-winning restaurants and two lounges. Duane's Prime Steaks and Seafood Restaurant is a AAA Four Diamond award-winning, fine dining restaurant. Bella Trattoria, a small Italian bistro located on the adjacent Main Street pedestrian walking mall, serves Southern Italian Cuisine.

Las Campanas Mexican Cuisine & Cantina features authentic Mexican cuisine and signature margaritas in a landscaped garden.. 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 features live music and signature cocktails. Ten U.S. Presidents have visited this space, previously reserved as a Presidential four-room apartment. 54° at Duane’s is a wine bar adjacent to the renowned Duane's Prime Steaks and Seafood, which features more than 7,000 international bottles, including varietals from the Roberts’s own Oregon winery.

The Mission Inn has a French chateau themed wine tasting room, featuring the Irvine & Roberts Family Vineyards collection wines, a retail shop and private dining room.

Casey's Cupcakes, a confection boutique, offers gourmet cupcakes in a Parisian café setting with a Hollywood twist.

Kelly's Spa[edit]

Ranked among the top ten Conde Nast Traveler's Top 50 Hotel Spas in the U.S., Kelly's Spa features a variety of restorative treatments throughout its 12 private treatment rooms, nail salon, two therapeutic bath suites, eucalyptus steam room, heated pool, hot tub, and appointed private, poolside Tuscan Villas.

Mission Inn Museum[edit]

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[edit]

  • Mount Rubidoux – a city park in Riverside developed from land donated by the Miller family.



  • Gale, Zona. Frank Miller of the Mission Inn. D. Appleton-Century Co., New York. 1938. OCLC 2181944
  • Hall, Joan H. Through the Doors of the Mission Inn. Highgrove Press, Riverside, California. 1996. ISBN 0-9631618-2-2. OCLC 34655850
  • Hall, Joan H. Through the Doors of the Mission Inn; Volume Two. Highgrove Press, Riverside, California. 2000. ISBN 0-9631618-3-0. OCLC 45279767
  • Hodgen, Maurice. Master of the Mission Inn: Frank Miller, a Life. North Charleston, SC, Ashburton Publishing, c2013. ISBN 9780976278511 OCLC 876931972
  • Hutchings, DeWitt . Handbook of the Mission Inn, Riverside, California. Frank A. Miller. 1951. OCLC 14473934, 20347083
    • Also see: Hutchings, DeWitt V. and Borton, Francis. Handbook of the Glenwood Mission Inn. 1929. OCLC 19755317
  • Klotz, Esther. The Mission Inn: Its History and Artifiacts. Rubidoux Printing, Riverside, California. 1981. OCLC 9255879
  • Moore, Barbara (editor). Historic Mission Inn. Friends of the Mission Inn, Riverside, California. 1998. ISBN 0-9666914-0-7. OCLC 40414169
  • Parks, Walter P. The Famous Fliers' Wall of the Mission Inn. Infinity Press, Orange, California. 2004. Library of Congress Number 86-90693. OCLC 15998708
  • Mission Inn. The Bells and Crosses of the Mission Inn, Riverside, California. (between 1927 and 1938). OCLC 40809070

Citations and notes[edit]

  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Riverside Cultural Heritage Board (January 2002). "Landmarks of the City of Riverside" (PDF). City of Riverside. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  3. ^ "Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, a Historic Hotels of America member". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ Lech, Steve (2007). Riverside 1870–1940. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-4716-9. OCLC 127273299. 
  5. ^ Hall, Joan H., Through the Doors of the Mission Inn Vol. 1. Copyright Highgrove Press, Riverside, 1996.
  6. ^ Hall, Volume I and II.
  7. ^ 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).
  8. ^ Mission Inn Museum site for Carrie Jacobs-Bond.
  9. ^ "California Riverside Ballet; Season Events; Ghost Walk". California Riverside Ballet. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2009-12-14. 
  10. ^ City of Riverside Historic Districts and Buildings

External links[edit]