Mission Inn Hotel, Riverside, California (National Historic Landmark Hotel and Spa)
“It is the most unique hotel in America. It’s a monastery, a museum, a fine hotel, a home, a boardinghouse, a mission, an art gallery and an aviator’s shrine. It combines the best features of all of the above. If you are ever in any part of California, don’t miss the famous Mission Inn of Riverside.”
“It has been left to Frank Miller, a genuine Californian, to dream of the hotel that ought to be, to turn your ideas into plaster and stone and to give us a mountain-belted Riverside the hotel which a Californian can recognize as his own.”
David Starr Jordan-First President of Stanford University
HISTORY OF THE HOTEL
From its modest beginnings as a 12-room adobe boarding house to its current 239 guest rooms, the Mission Inn Hotel Spa has been the keystone of Downtown Riverside since 1876. In the late 1800’s wealthy Easterners and Europeans flocked to Riverside in search of a warmer winter climate along with the desire to invest in the area’s profitable citrus industry. By the 1890’s Riverside was the richest city per capita in the United States. This consistent influx of tourists to Riverside made Frank Miller, the Master of the Inn, recognize the dire need for a grand resort hotel.
Frank Miller opened the first wing of his new hotel in 1903. The Mission wing was built in Mission-Revival style architecture and sought to incorporate different structural elements of the 21 California Missions. Mr. Miller went onto add three more wings to his hotel: the Cloister, Spanish and completed it with the Rotunda wing in 1931.
Over the years the hotel has served as host to numerous celebrities and dignitaries.
The Presidential Lounge pays homage to the 10 U.S. Presidents that have passed through the doors of the Mission Inn. The current bar stands where President Theodore Roosevelt once slept during his visit to the hotel in 1903 and the lounge is also the site of Richard Nixon’s wedding to his wife Patricia. Whether it’s the JFK Cosmopolitan or the Herbert Hoover lemon drop, the lounge’s signature cocktails will leave you feeling very stately.
In the middle of the lobby sits a rather unique chair made for especially for President Taft who weighed roughly 350lbs. and stood six-foot-five. Frank Miller heard the rumors of President Taft getting stuck in the White House bathtub, so he had a special chair commissioned for this very prestigious and rotund guest for the banquet that was to be held in his honor. A prime example of arts & craft style furniture, the Taft chair has been a spacious photo spot for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Robert Redford, couples and countless schoolchildren.
Located a floor above the lobby, the hotel’s wedding chapels grace the Spanish-colonial inspired courtyard known as the Atrio. With its smooth travertine flagstones and Italian inspired bronze Bacchus fountain, the Atrio serves as a majestic backdrop for a timeless wedding. Part of the Rotunda wing, completed in 1931, the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel is embellished with priceless treasures from around the world. Precious Tiffany stained glass panels, which Mr. Miller acquired directly from Louis Comfort Tiffany, magnificently accent the grand walls of the chapel.
Frank Miller successfully ran the Mission Inn Hotel from its early stages as an adobe boarding house in 1876 into the destination hotel it became until his death in 1935. His ingenuity and keen hospitality knowledge made the Mission Inn an institution in Riverside and a destination for everyone. After the Miller family sold the hotel in 1956 it changed hands numerous times and was on the brink of being demolished. The legacy of private family ownership was renewed by Duane Roberts and the business principles of Frank Miller have been revived.
For a more extensive history of the Mission Inn Hotel visit www.missioninnmuseum.com or scheduled a docent-lead tour by calling (951) 789-9556
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