Thursday, January 12, 2012

Traveling Thursdays: The Mission Inn

Right before I was born, my family moved to Riverside, California. A few months later, they moved back to San Diego. My mother's stories about how much she hated it there shaped my impression and caused me to dismiss it as a place to visit.

A few years back, one of my employees got married and her wedding was to be at the Mission Inn in Riverside. I groaned, thinking, "What kind of a godawful motel will this be?"

When I arrived, I was blown away. This place was amazing. Like an oasis in the desert...literally.

Although this post has vintage photos, let me assure still looks the same today.

More on this place later. One post is not enough.

See more vintage & current Mission Inn photos on my Mission Inn web page.


Robin's Egg Bleu said...

I adore the Mission Inn! Imagine if this place had been built in San Diego? It'd sure give the Del a run for it's money!

Amber said...

You should have seen it before it underwent a major refurb in the late 80's/early 90's. The place was a pitiful disaster beforehand.

That gorgeous rotunda room? Full of broken glass, debris and vagrants. It was seriously in a shambles. Windows were boarded up, the interiors were shabby and unkempt, and it was in a state of decay that would make an architecture lover's heart break. Even as a child growing up in Riverside during the 80's it made me sad.

It took more than $50 million dollars and almost a decade to bring it back to its former glory. Thank goodness Duane Roberts had the money and good sense to get the renovations done.

Connie Moreno said...

I too remember what it looked liked before the restoration. It made me so sad! But now? Oh God, now it is truly magnificent! I'm going there for lunch next week! Dave, love those old photos! Riverside is NOT the place to be during the summer - it really made me miss Irvine, LOL!

Darryl said...

Dave -

Darryl from gave you some info about me working at the Tahitian Terrace...well guess what, I work at the Mission Inn also about the same era as D-Land as a bell boy. What an unbelievable place. Secret rooms, catacombs, weird hallways, courtyards. But the hotel rooms!...I don't think two are alike. And the round "honeymoon" suite and the two level suite, the bar where Nixon got married...this really is a "must see" when in the area.

Daveland said...

Darryl - I hope to see you in March. I am attempting to get approval to go to a design conference being held there! The hidden areas, catacombs....those are the things I really loved about that hotel! So many things to see, that one visit is not enough!

outsidetheberm said...

The Mission Inn is a Southern California 'must see', that's for certain.

Stay there at Christmas time, Dave, for a really memorable experience. Although the crowds can be a bit much.

Anonymous said...

You can partially thank Ben Swig of San Francisco's famed Fairmont Hotel for allowing Riverside's Mission Inn to decay in the 1960s. He also sold off many of the hotel's historic treasures. It eventually became used as apartments and college dorms and was not well taken care of. The city of Riverside eventually took over control and almost had to knock the entire hotel down in the mid-1970s due to lack of funds (and lack of foresight). Fortunately, residents and historians came out to save it from that particular fate.

In 1985, a complete $30+ million rehab began, including earthquake retrofitting. Duane Roberts purchased it @1991 and has done a great job in keeping the hotel busy and well maintained. It is a truly magnificent and very eclectic place. And indeed, it sparkles at Christmastime.

Chrissy @ Adventures in DIY said...

I used to live right by here - it's so gorgeous. It's a great place to visit at Christmastime (starting the day after Thanksgiving) - they put lights and decorations all over it. It's wonderful!

Darryl said...

Dave...OOPS!, I meant "worked" there, but good luck on your conference

- Darryl

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, Mr. Roberts did not restore the Mission Inn. He purchased it from the City Of Riverisde after the company completed the restoration, and folded. The city gave him a great price, many tax incentives and an almost turn key hotel. It was a win win. The Inn is operating and there is no doubt that Mr. Roberts had to pump some cash into the operations to get the business going. He did not restore the hotel