RIVERSIDE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

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By: Jeffrey Hard  •  Tuesday, March 31, 2020

THE MISSION INN: HISTORY AND BEAUTY AROUND EVERY CORNER: The Cornerstone of Downtown Riverside

Top Terrace at the Mission Inn

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Framed by its breathtaking Spanish Mission –style architecture, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa welcomes you to a destination where rich history and classic elegance exist in perfect balance with contemporary luxury and comfort.

 

This iconic AAA Four Diamond award-winning hotel has remained faithful to the grand style and ambiance enjoyed by its first guests.  Today’s Mission Inn continues the original splendor initiated by founder Frank Miller, thanks to the genuinely caring attention of Owner, Vice Chairman & COO Kelly Roberts and her husband, Owner Duane Roberts.  Expanding from its humble 1876 origins to encapsulate an entire city block, the Mission Inn offers luxurious boutique accommodations and amenities, only a quick jaunt from Los Angeles and Orange County, among romantically enchanting, one-of-a-kind architecture including awe-inspiring archways and flying buttresses, secluded garden oases, and soaring domes and towers.  With multiple upscale dining options, a modern fitness center, Tuscan-inspired, Conde Nast award-winning Kelly’s Spa, a lushly landscaped pool and Jacuzzi, historic museum, and opulent rooms that transport guests to California’s foregone eras, the AAA Four Diamond property provides a quintessentially Californian hospitality experience threaded with a rich history.

 

Whether you are seeking the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway, and inspirational setting for your wedding or business event, or an unforgettable family vacation destination, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa invites you to become part of the legend.

 

HOTEL HISTORY & CURRENT LEGACY

 

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa began as a quaint adobe boarding house in 1876, and blossomed into a full-service hotel in the early 1900s thanks to California’s economic citrus boom and warm weather, attracting wealthy travelers and investors from the East Coast and Europe.  Opened by Frank Miller, The Inn expanded in 1903 with over 200 guestrooms and the addition of the Mission Wing , built in Mission-Revival style while incorporate architectural features from more than 20 different California missions.  Three more wings materialized as demand grew, including the Cloister, Spanish Wing and the Rotunda Wing, which was completed in 1931.  Miller filled the hotel with valuable wares from across the globe, including artwork, furniture and religious relics.  The Mission Inn houses the oldest bell in Christendom, dating back to 1247.

 

 

The Mission inn has played host to U.S. Presidents, celebrities and served as the setting in many Hollywood productions, such as 1915’s “The Vampire”, 1938’s “Idiot’s Delight”, and 1997’s “Man in the Iron Mask”.  Presidents Roosevelt, Taft, Hoover, Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jr; social leaders such as Booker T. Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and John Muir; and entertainers including Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand and James Brolin have all stayed, dined and relaxed at The Mission Inn throughout its storied, nearly 150-year history.

 

Frank Miller successfully ran The Mission Inn Hotel until his death in 1935.  His ingenuity and keen hospitality expertise made the hotel an institution in Southern California history and a destination for everyone.

 

Miller’s family managed the hotel until the mid-1950s, and it changed hands multiple times and risked demolition, until Duane and Kelly Roberts came to the rescue in 1992, purchasing the iconic property and establishing The Historic Mission Inn Corporation with headquarters in Newport Beach, CA.  Kelly Roberts became Vice Chairman and COO to maintain The Mission Inn’s reputation as a premier luxury California destination, and she went on to develop the annual Festival of Lights, her Tuscan-inspired award-winning Kelly’s Spa, and more.

The Roberts have been instrumental in revitalizing downtown Riverside and preserving the history of the hotel since purchasing and restoring the Inn to its original grandeur.  They have been recipients of numerous awards, including the recent #1 Historic Hotel in the nation by USA Today’s 10Best, #1 Best Historic Hotel by Historic Hotels of America,  and Top 5 Hotels in Southern California & Top Hotel Spa in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler.  Kelly recently received the California Hotel & Lodging Association’s Women in Lodging – Connect Leader of the Year.

 

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