Nighttime Tour Of The Mission Inn
The Mission Inn, now known as The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is located in Riverside, California. It got it’s start as a cottage called ‘The Glenwood Hotel’ back in 1876 by a man named Christopher Columbus Miller. In 1902, his son Frank Augustus Miller changed the name to the ‘Mission Inn’ and started to build in a variety of eclectic styles, until his death in 1938.
Miller was influenced by 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. The complicated layers of addition stacked on addition has a strong comparison to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. During the 30-years of construction time Miller traveled the world, collecting treasures to bring back to the hotel for display. The various artifacts on the property have 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 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.”
Opening in 1932, the St. Francis Atrio containing the “Famous Fliers’ Wall”, which was used to recognize notable aviators. Today, 151 fliers or groups of fliers are honored by having their signatures etched onto 10-inch-wide copper wings attached to the wall. One of those who stuck out in memory for me being Amelia Earheart.
The Mission Inn has been the center of Riverside for the past 125 years. Among some of the notable visitors are Pat and Richard Nixon who were married in what is now the Presidential Lounge (although it’s a bar now), 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 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, 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.
There are many rumors and stories that suggest that the Inn is haunted. Although it seems to be the ideal conditions to be haunted with the catacombs, crazy stories and bazaar history, I myself did not experience any paranormal activity (better luck next time).
Please enjoy the beautiful gallery of pictures from my visit to The Mission Inn.