Mission Inn History
The vast history of the Mission Inn dated back to at least a century down the line when it began as a tiny boarding house with twelve rooms. It also revolves around the family of C. C. Miller, a civil engineer that immigrated and settled in Riverside in 1874 with the sole intention of constructing a water system. In 1880, C.C. Miller’s son, Frank Miller, purchased the land and rapidly expanded it with the help of Arthur Benton, a prominent architect, and Henry Huntington, a railroad baron. The official opening of today’s Mission Inn first wing by Miller was in 1903. The growth of the building was gradual, with each new side illustrating Miller’s adventures throughout Asia and Europe as well as the architectural innovations.
Hosting Special Guests
Numerous dignitaries and celebrities have been known to frequent the Mission Inn over the years. It has a Presidential Lounge that pays homage to ten United States Presidents hosted. The current bar commemorates the visit of President Theodore Roosevelt in the year 1903 and the room part once hosted the wedding of Richard Nixon and Patricia. There are different signature cocktails used by guests to toast to the famous guests to the Lounge, with examples including the Lemon Drop for Herbart Hoover and JFK’S Cosmopolitan.
Throughout Riverside’s history, Mr. Miller was known to accommodate famous guests who frequented the Inn. At the center of the lobby, there was a notable extraordinary and a bit large chair uniquely designed for President Taft. President Taft weighed approximately 350 pounds and stood six feet five inches tall, which made him struggle with usual amenities. At some point, rumor had it that he got stuck in a bathtub at the White House.
The Bell Collection Owned by Miller Family
Frank Miller toured throughout Asia and Europe, and always returned with numerous collections from his many trips. Frank was susceptible to giving in to great bargains including paintings, a bell, antique furniture or statuary. The artifact compilation of this family at one time exceeded 800, with the current count being 400 items distributed at the hotel and spa of Mission Inn. The Mexican restaurant’s Cantina section nicely holds the temple bell of Nanking. It happens to be among the very first artifacts that originated from China following the 1912’s Boxer Rebellion.
A.D. 1247, Christendom’s oldest dated bell, is yet another treasured Miller family piece. This prized collection is currently displayed right outside the famous restaurant. Mr. Miller bought it during one of his trips to England as well as two additional ones for approximately 25 bucks each. A shopkeeper purchased the next two bells while the former one remained in the Inn.
In discussing the history of the Mission Inn, it is essential to take note of its priceless treasures including the wedding chapels surrounding a Spanish-inspired courtyard called the Atrio. The Atrio’s key features include smooth flagstones as well as a bronze fountain that is Italian-inspired. Timeless wedding celebrations took place at the spot in question. The Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi, completed in 1931 has decorations made from priceless treasures derived from different regions around the world. Precious glass panels acquired from Louis Comfort, superbly accent the chapel’s grand walls.
Hard Times following Change of Inn’s Ownership
The Mission Inn had four wings by 1931 in addition to a labyrinth of towers, gardens, winding stairways, and arches that surrounded the whole city block. The interior part incorporated artifacts and arts that Miller purchased from different regions of the nation and across the globe. Even after Miller died in 1935, his family never ceased to operate the Inn until 1956 when a San Francisco-based hotel-man, Benjamin Swig, purchased it. Swig sold close to a thousand artifacts and artworks of the hotel in a move to revive the failing Inn whose business was under the threat of competitors such as a near Palm Springs. Despite the effort, the popularity of the Inn still dwindled and struggled through multiple ownership and recurrent financial crises.
Reviving the Hotel
In 1969, citizens became concerned about the hotel’s situations and formed a group dubbed “Friends of Mission Inn”. This organization had volunteering members whose primary objective was the promotion of the Inn’s business and protecting its historic collections. Riverside Redevelopment Agency bought the Inn in 1976 as its financial woes worsened. Following the efforts of government officials and local advocates, Mission Inn became the Nation’s Historic Landmark in 1977. This move made the Mission Inn one of the sites holding a historical importance. The city revived the hotel and kept it thriving for almost nine years before selling it to a private development firm based in Wisconsin. In June 1985, the company closed the Inn to begin a 50 million dollar renovation project of seven years.
In December 1988 as the restorations were nearly coming to an end, the hotel once again became bankrupt. The situation remained the same for three years with no potential buyer. Luckily in 1992, Duane Roberts, a local Riverside entrepreneur bought the Inn and reopened it successfully for business. The hotel gradually regained its place as a notable Southern California’s premier destination, and its legacy will go on for several years to come.
Mission Inn as a Current Living Museum
Currently, there are daily tours offered by the Mission Inn Museum and while here you acquaint yourself with the history of this Riverside-based legendary hotel. The tour routes and times aren’t fixed but rather subject to availability. The charges are 13 dollars per head and complimentary for children under the age of 12. Each walking tour will last you approximately 75 minutes, with the opening hours being 9.30 in the morning to 4.00 at the evening, excluding the holidays.
Based on this information concerning the history of the Mission Inn, it is clear that it is America’s unique hotel. It also served as a home, mission, a boardinghouse, an art gallery, a museum, a monastery, and a shrine of an aviator. It integrates the best features of all the mentioned things. When in California, you should make a point of visiting this famous historical site located in the heart of Riverside. If you haven’t been here, you clearly need to experience the incredible history and get a firsthand view of the famous collection of the Miller family. It is clearly, a must-visit spot that will give you a memorable and fantastic time of your life.