Friday, September 18, 2009

"Where There is No Vision,

. . . the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18) was a favorite quotation of Frank Miller.

But to back up a bit . . . .

The Mission Inn in Riverside, CA, began as a the Glenwood Inn, a 12-room adobe boarding house in 1876. In 1880, Christopher Columbus Miller's eldest son Frank, age 22, purchased the two-story adobe home and surrounding property from his father for $5,000.

By the 1890’s Riverside was the richest city per capita in the United States. This consistent influx of tourists to Riverside made Frank Miller, who would become the Master of the Inn, recognize the dire need for a grand resort hotel.

And Frank Miller had grand plans--his vision was to create a beautiful destination hotel, which would eventually become the Mission Inn.

At the turn of the century, California was known for its missions that were founded by the Franciscan monks. Frank Miller decided that calling his hotel the "Mission Inn" would help create a certain mystique and aura that would draw people to this tiny out-of-the-way town. If someone thought his hotel was originally a true mission, he wouldn't correct them.

He even went so far as to dress like a monk, board the trains that came out to the area and comment about how great the Mission Inn hotel was, handing out oranges to anyone who was interested. When wealthy travelers came out to inspect the Mission Inn that this monk was speaking so highly of, they would stay for weeks at a time.

The Inn continued to grow over the years. The bridge (photos #2 and #3 above) joined the hotel to the Mission Inn Annex (photo directly above), which originally housed the staff.

Frank Miller traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia on family vacations and always return with more “stuff” than he went with. Whether it was antique furniture, paintings, statuary or a bell, Frank could never resist a great bargain. One example is shown in the photo below. During one of his travels to Italy, he admired a section of ironwork and the next morning there were many pieces that the townspeople wanted to sell--all of them different. He bought them all. These sections make up segments of the fence along one side of the hotel that takes up an entire city block.

He found sections of sewer pipe in front of the hotel following some repair work and put pieces of the pipe on top of the brick portions of the fence. Also, pieces of anchor chain stretched between other brick sections.

Frank Miller opened the first wing of his new hotel in 1903 and went on to add three more wings to his hotel: the Cloister (left and below), the Spanish, and the Rotunda wing in 1931.

Currently, the hotel consists of 239 guest rooms and suites, no two of which are alike.

These windows appear in the Music Room of the Cloister section. The center window shows St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. St. Cecilia was portrayed with the face of Isabella Miller, Frank's wife.

A large pipe organ was located to the right of these windows.

Passing through this gate will offer a closer look at the Mission Inn's interior and two other wings.

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