The Mission Inn is an historic landmark hotel in Riverside, California. Jeff and I met John and Amanda there one Sunday afternoon for a tour.
The History of the Inn:
in 1874 Christopher Columbus Miller, a civil engineer from Wisconsin, worked on setting up a water system in Riverside. Soon his family joined him and they set up a boarding house in the center of town. By 1880 his son, Frank, took over the property. Inspired by Mission Revival architecture, encouraged by California Mission tourism, financed by railroad tycoon Henry Huntington, and aided by architect Arthur Benton, Frank began enlarging the original boarding house.
The building grew in stages influenced by regional architectural trends and Frank’s travels throughout Europe and Asia. By 1903 the first wing was open. By 1931 four wings were open. The Inn was a labyrinth of gardens, towers, arches, and winding staircases.
It took up an entire city block and was filled with art and artifacts owned by Miller, to the delight and enchantment of his guests.
The Inn started losing business to nearby tourist hotspots, so when Frank died in 1935, the family sold the Inn to Benjamin Swig, a hotel man from San Francisco. Swig sold off 1,000 pieces of art and redecorated the Inn in mid 1900s style. But the building continued to struggle financially. Eventually the rooms were made into dormitories and private apartments.
Local citizens and volunteers organized into Friends of the Mission Inn in 1969 to promote the hotel and safeguard the remaining art collection.
The city of Riverside purchased the hotel in 1976 and in 1977 the building became a National Historic Landmark. In 1985 the city sold the Inn to a Wisconsin firm which then closed it for renovations over the next 7 years. By 1988 it was bankrupt again. Finally, Duane Roberts, a Riverside resident, purchashed the Mission Inn and reopened it in late1992. (missioninnmuseum.org)