Mission Inn Museum

Mission Inn Museum Preserving, promoting, and sharing the legacy of the National Historic Landmark Mission Inn. Experience our history today.
The Mission Inn Foundation preserves, interprets, and promotes the cultural heritage of the Mission Inn, Riverside, and the surrounding southern California communities through its museum services, educational programs, and outreach activities.
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The Mission Inn Foundation was incorporated in 1976 to assist in the preservation and restoration of the Mission Inn, and originally, to manage the hotel during ownership by the City of Riverside's Redevelopment Agency. The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is now privately owned by Duane and Kelly Roberts, and the Foundation has a unique role of operating a non-profit museum within a for-profit hotel. The Mission Inn Museum, operated by the Mission Inn Foundation, was opened in 1993, simultaneous with the reopening of the Mission Inn after seven years of extensive renovations. In addition to the museum, the Mission Inn Foundation interprets the history and significance of the Mission Inn through daily hotel tours, monthly public programs and special events, the Hands On History educational initiative, and the continued stewardship of the hotel's expansive art, artifact, and archival collections.

Mission: The Mission Inn Foundation preserves, interprets, and promotes the cultural heritage of the Mission Inn, Riverside, and the surrounding southern California communities through its museum services, educational programs, and outreach activities

The most iconic architectural symbol of the Mission Inn is the campanario, or bell wall. Built in 1902 as part of the Mi...
02/04/2020

The most iconic architectural symbol of the Mission Inn is the campanario, or bell wall. Built in 1902 as part of the Mission Wing expansion of the hotel, the campanario was an addition to the original 1876 structure, the Glenwood. When plans were beginning for the construction of the Mission Wing, Frank Miller and architect Arthur Benton were anticipating the demolition of the Glenwood to make way for a large interior courtyard surrounded by the U-shaped Mission Wing, but Frank's daughter Allis pleaded with her father to keep the Glenwood structure, where she had been born in 1882. To honor his daughter's wishes, Frank decided upon a renovation plan of the Glenwood that removed the exterior wooden siding, exposed the adobe brick construction, and created a second story, rooftop garden—calling it the Old Adobe. The campanario was built as an add-on architectural feature to the Old Adobe along with serving the practical use of housing an exterior staircase to the rooftop garden. The campanario, also referred to as the campanile, arched over the main entrance walkway leading into the lobby of the Inn.

Its architectural design, said to be copied from the bell wall at Mission San Gabriel, serves as one of the foremost mission-style cues on the property—in addition to the 7th Street arches that were added several years later.

In 1948, when the Inn decided a pool for a hotel in Southern California was a necessity, Allis Miller Hutchings reluctantly permitted the demolition of the Old Adobe to provide the needed space for an Olympic-sized swimming pool. While the Old Adobe, with its rooftop garden were demolished, the campanario remained along with the stairs that once led guests to the quaint garden.

After decades of welcoming guests, the campanario had serious structural complications. So much so, that the original brick and stucco structure was beyond repair. While the original staircase in the campanario could be salvaged, demolition of the rest of the failing structure was required in the late 1980's. The recreation of this Mission Inn icon was masterfully done—down to the last detail with the use of modern construction materials.

Today the campanario remains the beacon symbol of this iconic hotel with thousands of guests having strolled through its signature archway.

(Excerpts from Mission Inn Foundation archives.)

Over this past weekend, we took part in the Riverside Unified School District's National History Day events. Students fr...
02/03/2020

Over this past weekend, we took part in the Riverside Unified School District's National History Day events. Students from local elementary, middle and high schools participated in creating innovative exhibits, performances, documentaries and websites. Each focusing on the theme "Breaking Barriers".

Part of our participation included our organization awarding select projects our Mission Inn Museum "Local History Award". Projects that were the best at presenting historically accurate content while interweaving the theme "Breaking Barriers" in both an educational and thought-provoking manner were presented with our "Local History Award".

Although there were many good submissions, two projects stood out among the rest. They focused on famed architect Julia Morgan and the influential Harada family.

#RUSD #EDUMondays #MIF #NHD2020

Welcome to Education Mondays! Each Monday we will post about the exciting activities our Education Department is involve...
02/03/2020

Welcome to Education Mondays! Each Monday we will post about the exciting activities our Education Department is involved with! As Frank Miller stated "Dramatize what you do!" and we can't wait to do just that! #MIF #EDUMondays

While the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel was created to house the famed golden Rayas altar screen and the seven exquisite ...
01/31/2020

While the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel was created to house the famed golden Rayas altar screen and the seven exquisite Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows, these arched and round windows also have a noteworthy history that took place years before their arrival at the Inn.

It was in New York City in 1904 where architect Stanford White gained a commission to build a new church for the Madison Square Presbyterian congregation. A Roman basilica inspired design was finalized for the new build. White’s creation was widely applauded as one of New York’s finest architectural gems. It’s interior dazzled with Louis Comfort Tiffany’s renowned favrile stained glass embellishing the walls.

In May 1918, with the church’s wealthy congregants moving further north, the church had no choice but to close its doors and merge with the First Presbyterian Church. Short-lived, only twelve years after its construction, demolition began in October 1918.

In an astonishingly early example of architectural salvaging, many of the exquisite elements were rescued and reused. Tiffany had placed a clause in his contract that if the church were ever demolished, the windows would be returned to him.

While in New York City in 1920, Frank Miller was invited to Tiffany’s studio. Uncertain about the meeting since their last encounter in 1915 over the Nanjing Bell ended poorly, Frank met with Tiffany and was offered the eight windows to serve as new additions to the Inn. Knowing that the windows cost $3,500 each sixteen years prior, Frank quickly responded that he could never afford the window masterpieces. It is then that the story goes blank. Just how Frank managed to negotiate for the windows remains unknown. There are no receipts or bill of sale—but the windows did arrive at the Inn around 1924 and were held in storage until the Chapel was built in 1931.

Seven of the eight windows are showcased in the Chapel. The six towering, arched windows, three made of translucent favrile glass and three made of iridescent chunks of glass, depict months of the year, flowers, harvest fruits and biblical stories. The two round windows were separated, with the translucent one placed above the entry doors to the Chapel and the other displayed on the west wall of the Galleria.

In the mid-1980's, many of the stained glass windows at the Inn were restored and reinforced. A glass restoration shop was set up in the International Rotunda with Bill Rose leading the restoration efforts on these signature windows.

The mystery of how Frank mended the circumstances with Tiffany and obtained the windows may forever remain a mystery, but it is from that mystery where visitors from around the globe can come and experience the splendor of the priceless Tiffany windows in the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel.

(Excerpts from Mission Inn Foundation archives.)

Colorful tiles have served as vibrant decorative features at the Inn for over one hundred years. Adding to the European ...
01/29/2020

Colorful tiles have served as vibrant decorative features at the Inn for over one hundred years. Adding to the European feel of the Spanish Patio, International Rotunda, Alhambra Court and numerous other locations, Spanish tiles have been displayed as wall reliefs, lined fountain basins and covered floors to catch the eye of guests with their kaleidoscope of color.

These specialty Mission Inn tiles are just a few of the multiple views that tile artisan Barbara Leone has brought to life on glazed terra cotta. From the Amistad Dome to the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, each Chelsea-Arts tile is hand painted with Barbara’s 40+ years of experience. There’s no better way to carry on this Spanish decorative tradition than enjoying one of these speciality tiles of the Inn at your home!

An imperial temple bell from the Manchu Temple in Nanjing, China, the Nanjing Bell was one of Frank Miller's most prized...
01/26/2020

An imperial temple bell from the Manchu Temple in Nanjing, China, the Nanjing Bell was one of Frank Miller's most prized possessions. 🔔

The largest of the Inn's once 800 piece bell collection, standing 7'2 feet tall and weighing 3,500 pounds, came to find its home outside the Old Adobe in 1914 as a gift to Frank from his daughter and son-in-law, Allis and DeWitt Hutchings. While traveling through Asia, Allis came across the massive bell and wished to add something that exquisite to her father's already impressive bell collection. It was one of the first items to leave China after the fall of the Qing Dynasty following the Revolution of 1912, when the sacred temple where it originally hung was demolished.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing stories of the Nanjing Bell includes famous stained glass artisan, Louis Comfort Tiffany. Around 1915, the very private and reclusive Mr. Tiffany was a guest at the Inn and went his entire visit without speaking to anyone, including Frank Miller. For days on end he ate each meal behind a screen in the dining room and avoided hotel staff.

As the popular story around the Inn goes: While preparing to leave, Mr. Tiffany's car came around to the front of the Old Adobe and before getting inside he demanded to speak with Frank Miller. When Frank arrived, Mr. Tiffany abruptly said, "How much is that bell? I want to buy that bell—that great big bell, the largest in the collection. " Now, Frank would sell almost anything at the Inn with many objects already having price tags attached to them, but the potential sale of this item was different. A determined Mr. Tiffany said, "I am Louis C. Tiffany and I want that bell." Frank responded by stating, "I am Frank A. Miller and that bell is not for sale." Frank Miller and Louis Comfort Tiffany then parted ways in less than amicable circumstances.

Many believe that Frank could not sell the Nanjing Bell for several reasons: first, there was a significant value and attachment to the bell due to it being a special gift from his daughter and son-in-law. Secondly, much of Frank's bell collecting stemmed from an homage to his late wife Isabella, whom he lovingly referred to as Belle.

The Nanjing Bell has been moved several times (in the 1940's, 1950's, 1980's and multiple times in the early 2000's) within the Court of the Birds near the main entrance to the Inn. In 2010, it was suspended into the air by crane and placed on an elevated concrete platform enclosed with a wooden pergola. It was not until later that it was noticed the bell had been placed backwards on its platform. Since being turned and re-positioned, it has remained in its prominent location along the main entrance walkway serving as a popular spot for photos and views of the surrounding landscape.

“The California Alps" by William Keith is the most famous example of California landscape painting in the Inn's collecti...
01/23/2020

“The California Alps" by William Keith is the most famous example of California landscape painting in the Inn's collection. While not a direct rendition, the six-by-eight-foot, 1874 oil on canvas painting portrays the natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. This is an example of the artistic style of Romantic Realism, in which reality is modified to express a romantic attitude and emotional response from the viewer.

The background of this massive painting shows jagged peaks rising above snowy mountain caps that reach into the clouds. Below are canyons and crevices with two waterfalls cascading down into a rolling river. The vegetation, with its rich emerald green, portrays an accurate depiction typical of canyon flanks. In the foreground, one can see figures of Native Californians within a small village nestled along the hillside and surrounding open space.

Frank Miller first saw "The California Alps" at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and later in the Keith exhibit at the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915 (the same event where Frank purchased the Spanish cannons and many other treasures). "The California Alps" did not become a part of the Inn's collection until several years later when Frank purchased the massive painting from Keith's estate.

Since becoming part of the historic collection, "The California Alps" has adorned the walls of many iconic locations at the Inn. At one time, the western focal points of both the Spanish Art Gallery and Galleria, as well as, the southern wall of the Galleria have all been embellished with this well-known California painting.

In the late 1930's the Alps were moved to the upper portion of the western wall in the hotel lobby. On the night of December 29, 1943, a serious fire occurred in the chimes of the bell tower at the Inn. After two hours, firemen contained the blaze. Water flowed down the lobby staircase from a broken water pipe during the incident and poured onto the Alps painting. Due to the damage the water caused to the painting, in 1944, Penrhyn Stanlaws, a well-known artist who worked at the Inn, cleaned and carefully restored the painting. This cleaning greatly improved the color of the painting by restoring the whiteness of its snow and clouds.

The Friends of the Mission Inn restored this valued painting once more, utilizing $13,504 in restoration funds in 1983.

Since then, "The California Alps" has remained on the same main lobby wall greeting guests from near and far as a prime example of the Romanticized Realism movement of the late 19th century along with displaying a quintessential view of California.

"Jacob John Jeremiah Jones has a long name, a short body and the typical problems of an eight-year-old." Growing up in R...
01/22/2020

"Jacob John Jeremiah Jones has a long name, a short body and the typical problems of an eight-year-old." Growing up in Riverside in 1907 and 1908, "Jake" tells the story of the wealth created by the boom of the citrus industry at the turn of the 20th century, the notorious elephant stampede when the circus came to town in 1908 and other iconic Mission Inn happenings of the era.

The grandeur of the Inn shines through this novel by Sarah Healton and Kay Healton Whiteside as it showcases a unique view of the Inn—through the eyes of a child. A favorite of students studying local history, "Jake and the Mission Inn" is currently available at the Mission Inn Museum Store.

A collector seemingly set to top all collectors, in 1915 Frank Miller was one of the many guests that attended the San F...
01/14/2020

A collector seemingly set to top all collectors, in 1915 Frank Miller was one of the many guests that attended the San Francisco Panama Pacific Exposition. To show visitors from around the world how the city had recovered from the devastating 1906 earthquake, San Francisco welcomed expositions goers that assembled to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal with a showcase of human invention, art and innovation.

At the completion of the exposition, Frank Miller returned to Riverside with numerous treasures that have become synonymous with the Inn‘s eclectic identity. Two of those items were bronze Spanish canons, one with the crest of King Carlos III from 1779 and the other of King Ferdinand VII from 1814. Each cannon, weighing over a ton, came to San Francisco from the Spanish colony of the Philippines and were part of the country’s display at the exposition. Infamous local lore of the Inn claims that Frank Miller, while bargaining for the purchase of the cannons, stated “I know you don’t want to ship these back to the Philippines.” Frank’s collecting continued for the next twenty years and brought the beautiful and unusual from around the world to Riverside. The cannons arrived at the Inn in 1915 to find their permanent home.

Originally placed at the corner of 7th Street, now Mission Inn Avenue, and Orange Street, the cannons were moved during an exterior main entrance renovation in the 1950’s to face outwards to 7th Street. The canons were a great local attraction—often the site of explosive pranks by young Riversiders looking for mischief. Years later, the canons were moved closer to the Inn’s entrance for greater protection and up-close visibility by guests.

Have you remained committed to your New Year’s resolution?  We have! Starting with our local youth!The Mission Inn Found...
01/10/2020
Youth Education : Mission Inn Foundation

Have you remained committed to your New Year’s resolution? We have! Starting with our local youth!

The Mission Inn Foundation and Museum’s Youth Ambassador Program aims to educate and inspire Riverside youth by encouraging career development, creating community connections and engaging in civic leadership. This week our Youth Ambassadors were able to engage with California State Park Ranger Raphael Samuel about career options in law enforcement.

Curious about what other resolutions we are working on? Check out our website! https://missioninnmuseum.org/learn/school-resources/

Come on down to the Mission Inn Museum today for our First Sunday event! Join us in making your very own bell, then take...
01/05/2020

Come on down to the Mission Inn Museum today for our First Sunday event! Join us in making your very own bell, then take a FREE perimeter tour of the Inn guided by our Youth Ambassadors. There is availability remaining on our 2:15pm and 3:15pm tours. We hope to see you soon!

Everyday is a celebration at the Inn—a place where history, people and art combine. As we end one decade and begin the n...
12/31/2019

Everyday is a celebration at the Inn—a place where history, people and art combine.

As we end one decade and begin the next, we reflect on over 100 years of celebrations. From the roaring 1920’s, to the wild 1970’s to exciting future decades ahead, here are some of the parties of years passed that are sure to entertain as you prepare for the New Years Eve festivities.
🎉A very Happy New Year to all!🎉

Frank Miller's love and collecting of bells is said to be rooted in his love for his wife Isabella. At one point, Frank ...
12/31/2019

Frank Miller's love and collecting of bells is said to be rooted in his love for his wife Isabella. At one point, Frank had a 900+ bell collection at the Inn.

Come learn about the Mission Inn’s expansive bell collection and join us in making your very own bell on January 5th as part of the monthly First Sunday event!

We are ending 2019 and the 27th Annual Festival of Lights with a bang!💥Now through January 6th, in the museum store, sel...
12/30/2019

We are ending 2019 and the 27th Annual Festival of Lights with a bang!💥
Now through January 6th, in the museum store, select Christmas items are 20% off. Wooden Christmas-themed ornaments, holiday soap, tea, Festival of Lights candles, Christmas cards and wooden holiday figures are some of the special local finds now on sale. Come by the museum store to purchase and save—it’s never too early to start preparing for Christmas 2020!

📸: Watchara Phomicinda

Address

3696 Main St
Riverside, CA
92501

Opening Hours

Monday 09:30 - 16:30
Tuesday 09:30 - 16:30
Wednesday 09:30 - 16:30
Thursday 09:30 - 16:30
Friday 09:30 - 16:30
Saturday 09:30 - 16:30
Sunday 09:30 - 16:30

Telephone

(951) 788-9556

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The Mission Inn Museum is run by the non-profit Mission Inn Foundation, which was incorporated in 1976 to assist in the preservation and restoration of the Mission Inn, and originally, to manage the hotel during ownership by the City of Riverside's Redevelopment Agency. The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is now privately owned by Duane and Kelly Roberts, and the Foundation has a unique role of operating a non-profit museum within a for-profit hotel. The Mission Inn Museum was opened in 1993, simultaneous with the reopening of the Mission Inn after seven years of extensive renovations. In addition to the museum, the Mission Inn Foundation interprets the history and significance of the Mission Inn through daily hotel tours, monthly public programs and special events, the Hands On History educational initiative, and the continued stewardship of the hotel's expansive art, artifact, and archival collections.

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Comments

Enjoyed a charming, unique and informative tour by your Ambassadors-- what a courteous and sharp group! I thought I knew a lot about the Mission Inn but I learned much and appreciated their courtesy and concern for our safety as we strolled outside the Mission Inn and each young man pointed out unique features and historical artifacts. Highly recommended! And a stroll across the Mall to Mrs Tiggy Winkles brings one to one of the most whimsical and attractively-arranged gift shops of unique items!
Ready, Set, Gooooo!!!!