The birth of manned powered flight occurred the same year Frank Miller opened his mission-styled hotel. Mr. Miller, his guests, Riverside, and the whole world would soon learn of Orville Wright’s 12-second flight on December 17, 1903. Riverside was headed for an adventure “in the skies” that continues 101 years later. Leading the way was Frank Miller and his beloved Mission Inn.
For owner Frank Augustus Miller, the Mission Inn was a celebration of and an appreciation for California ’s Missions. The Master of the Inn chose to evoke the romance of the Mission Era in his early 20 th century idealized version of California ’s history. The architecture of the California Missions, of Mexico and the Mediterranean placed alongside the orange groves of Southern California made the hotel unlike any grand hotel of the time (and even today).
The people who move and shake society have made the Mission Inn a favorite haunt ever since its doors opened in 1903. Presidents, social leaders, entertainers, and other celebrities have all left their mark, making it the center stage of Riverside’s public life for over a century.
The Mission Inn encompasses many architectural styles. Aside from the Mission style architecture, we also see the Islamic, Moorish, Italian, Asian, and the Arts and Crafts influence. Explore the various styles of the Mission Inn and the architects who designed them under the direction of Frank Miller, Master of the Inn.
The 1873 introduction to Riverside of two navel orange trees from Brazil would lead to what some writers have termed California’s other “Gold Rush.” The navel orange (named for the end of the fruit resembling a belly button) had no seeds. In order to create the new trees, a process termed “budding” was required. The climate and soil conditions of inland Southern California were perfect. The result was an international favorite; a large thick-skinned sweet orange.
Do you know what Frank Miller’s role was in bringing March Field and the world’s first experimental citrus station to the County? What part did he play in designing the downtown district and starting the Mission Revival Movement; how did he take leadership in working for world peace? Which member of his family brought the first commercially generated electricity to the region? Which of Mr. Miller’s relatives was Riverside’s first schoolteacher? This is where you’ll find the answers!
When the Spanish marched into Southern California to build a settlement that later became known as Los Angeles, they created a diverse community of Indian, Spanish and African inhabitants. This new community of people from different backgrounds gradually spread eastward into what is now Riverside, a city far more diverse in population than the original pioneer pueblo. How did Frank Miller and the Riverside Mission Inn contribute to this change?
Part of the attraction to the Mission Inn is the objects Mission Inn owner Frank Miller used to decorate the National Historic Landmark hotel. The objects served as props and the hotel the setting for this romantic recreation of the California Mission era. Bells, crosses, religious art, tiles, and other objects found throughout the hotel are reflective of this period of California ’s history.
The Mission Inn Museum features permanent, temporary and virtual exhibits. The onsite permanent exhibit in the Mission Inn Museum details the history of the Mission Inn and it's founder Frank Miller, as well as featuring the collections of the Mission Inn Foundation and Museum. Temporary exhibits have featured "The Music of the Mission Inn", "Catacombs - Myth and Reality" and "By the Seat of their Pants - Aviation - Mission Inn - March Field."