The Mission Inn Foundation and Museum is being threatened with eviction from the Mission Inn hotel, our home of over 30 years. We have been served by both the Historic Mission Inn Corporation and the City of Riverside with 30-day eviction notices. When the Mission Inn hotel passed to private ownership in 1992, the sales agreement guaranteed the Mission Inn Foundation a lease within the hotel for 50 years. The people of Riverside invested millions into protecting, preserving and investing in the hotel, and the lease is critical to preserving the public trust in the Mission Inn hotel. At risk are the rights to host a museum, to give tours and to care for the collection. The end of the lease would likely result in the end of the Mission Inn Foundation and these services. The Mission Inn Foundation is confident in its legal position, but we face challenging days ahead.
If you would like to help us defend against this legal challenge, please consider:
1) Signing our Change.org petition in a show of public support and by sharing your own experiences with the Mission Inn Foundation (Museum).
2) Donate directly to our legal fund at GoFundMe.
4) Reach out to your friends, neighbors and city council member to express your support for the Mission Inn Foundation.
What happens if the Mission Inn Foundation is evicted?
Beyond hosting the physical museum, the Mission Inn Foundation trains and provides the well-known Docent led tours of the Mission Inn hotel, including those to Riverside students, VIP guests of the Mission Inn hotel and City as well as visitors to our city. The Mission Inn Foundation researches and develops exhibitions about the Mission Inn hotel, showcasing many artifacts from 120 years of Mission Inn hotel history. The Mission Inn Foundation develops education programs, including the award-winning Hands-on-History program, which engages English Language Development students to explore the history of their community while gaining valuable skills. The Mission Inn Foundation also hosts a wide variety of public programming, including well known events such as the Mission Inn Run and Frank Miller Civic Achievement Award.
The Mission Inn Foundation was specifically written into the sales agreement to ensure that the community would retain access to its most treasured landmark, through tours, research, education, collections care, exhibitions and museum services.
If the Mission Inn Foundation is evicted, this may all end.
A Brief History of the Mission Inn Foundation
The Mission Inn Foundation traces its roots back to 1976, when the Mission Inn hotel was threatened with demolition. Many of the city’s prominent citizens fought to save the Inn, and the result is that the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Riverside purchased the Mission Inn hotel, and the Mission Inn Foundation was formed as a non-profit organization to manage the Inn. The Mission Inn Foundation managed the hotel for several years before evolving into a museum in 1985 as the City attempted to sell the Inn for the first time. The Mission Inn Foundation inventoried and worked to preserve the thousands of artifacts on site while the Mission Inn hotel went under renovation, while also developing the Docent tour program in anticipation of the Inn reopening. Ultimately the private owner went bankrupt, but restoration continued while the city searched for another buyer.
In 1992, the City sold the Mission Inn hotel to Duane Roberts in the hopes that private ownership would return the Inn to its former glory. Among the sales agreement was a condition that the Mission Inn Foundation retain museum space within the hotel, retain the right to give tours and to conduct other museum services for 50 years. This was designed to ensure public access and connection to the Mission Inn hotel. Since this time, the Mission Inn Foundation has dutifully promoted the Mission Inn hotel, hiring the curators, collections managers, educators and other professional museum staff to continue the work of preserving and sharing the legacy of the Mission Inn hotel.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 30, 2023
Thank you so much to all of you who have stepped up to express your support for the Mission Inn Foundation and its role in preserving and sharing the history of our city’s most treasured landmark. It is reassuring to know how many of you care about our fate and the future of our museum. We’re still hopeful for a positive resolution and wish to work with both the Historic Mission Inn Corporation (HMIC) and the City to find a solution that works for everyone.
To that end we extended an offer this week, through the City Manager’s office, to the HMIC to resolve our differences through mediation. Sadly, this was rejected by HMIC. Since the 30-day eviction notice remains in effect, we are forced to take legal action to stop the eviction, and to explain our legal claim that the Foundation has the right to extend the lease for two ten-year periods.
To clear up confusion, we must stress that the lease at issue isn’t just about physical space for the museum; it also includes guarantees that the Foundation can conduct Docent tours and many other public services provided by the Foundation. Without the lease, these things likely would not exist.
It’s also unfortunate that we need to correct several statements that have been posted by the HMIC, including references to “multiple fair offers”, “will ensure that the tours of the Mission Inn will always continue”, “ensure The Mission Inn Run will continue to go on yearly” and to clarify the length of the intended lease.
The final offer made by the HMIC specifically called for a 5-year lease term with no extensions (remember, this includes protections for tours and museum access), plus many other requirements including taking 25% of revenues from volunteer Docent tours. Additionally, not a single offer made by HMIC guarantees Docent tours beyond 5 years. If our connection is severed from the Mission Inn after 5 years, it would deprive the Foundation of its primary purpose and likely be the end of the organization.
The HMIC has also never been involved in the planning, financing (beyond limited past sponsorship) or management of the Mission Inn Run, which is accomplished through the hard work of Foundation staff and hundreds of community volunteers.
As for the length of the lease, the language within the Disposition & Development Agreement (1992 DDA) by which the hotel was purchased from the Riverside Redevelopment Agency specifically states that the Foundation would occupy its museum, offices and archival spaces “…for a thirty year (30) term, with two ten year options to extend for the nominal rent of $1.00”. The lease written in 2000, which incorporated the language of the DDA, also reiterates “for two (2) additional ten (10) year period(s) (each, an extension term) under the same terms and conditions as the original lease (except for Minimum Rent as provided below”. It is clear in both documents that the intended lease is for a thirty-year initial term, with two ten-year renewal options, assigned to the Foundation.
The Foundation’s role of preserving and sharing the history of the Mission Inn is an integral part of our city’s cultural heritage community yet is complimentary to the role of the Mission Inn as a private hotel. Our role is to tell the full story, and that includes modern experiences. Every tour we give tells the story of the Roberts’ purchase and stewardship of the Mission Inn, we’ve curated exhibitions in their honor, and we recognize every day the value the Roberts’ stewardship brings to Riverside. There is no doubt that the purchase of the Mission Inn by the Roberts marked a new era for Riverside. Their stewardship as “Keepers of the Inn” has led the revitalization of downtown Riverside, benefitting the whole city. The Mission Inn Foundation has also invested heavily in the Mission Inn, spending millions of dollars over the last 30 years on exhibitions, educational programs, community events and collections care, all to honor and promote the Mission Inn. We only ask that the HMIC would honor the agreement they made with the City, the Foundation and our community when the hotel was purchased and recognize the value the Foundation and our Docents bring to all of us.
Our offer to HMIC to resolve our situation through mediation remains open, and we welcome the opportunity find a solution where everyone can win. While we work to resolve our differences, the Foundation will continue to serve our community through exhibitions, education programs, collections care and community events.
Thank you again for your support, love and care.
- Mission Inn Foundation