Santa Barbara Mission California Missions Inspire Mission Inn Architecture Mission Inn
The architecture of the Mission Inn was influenced by many other cultures, from other parts of the world, and other times in history
What is architecture? The art and science of designing and constructing buildings.
Architects build models to help visualize what a building is going to look like when completed. In 1928-1930, architect G. Stanley Wilson prepared for construction of the last wing of the hotel by making a wood and metal model of the rotunda.
The beautiful architecture of the Mission Inn has inspired many three-dimensional models to be made for artistic reasons as well as by those who study the unique and various building characteristics. In 1983, 13 college students from Cal Poly Pomona compiled a 90 page book study of the Mission Inn, including detailed drawings, structural and mechanical systems, circulation, security, fire and other life safety issues, and they built a 1/8” scale model using paper and cardboard.
Many different materials are used for building models. In 2004, a model was made using Lego’s®
Fascination with the architecture of the Mission Inn has even inspired sand castle models, such as this one built to scale in 1994 at the Galleria at Tyler. It weighed 50 tons!
Architects not only create new buildings, but they help restore them as they age. The Mission Inn has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark, California State Historic Landmark, and a City of Riverside Cultural Landmark. It is important therefore, to preserve this magnificant and unique blend of architectural styles. In 1985, the hotel was closed for major renovation and preservation. What is renovation? To remodel or repair to its former good condition. What is preservation? To keep in perfect or unaltered condition.
The entire hotel was covered with multicolored tarps in order to fumigate for termites and other insects. The arches along the Mission Inn Avenue were demolished and replaced with exact replicas. Access for those with disabilities had to be provided and the Mission Inn had to be refitted for earthquake safety. Scaffolding covered the east side of the Mission Inn.
Fumigation tents cover Mission Inn in 1987 Damaged window casings had to be repaired
The roof had to be replaced and steel installed for further strength and safety
Frank Miller, original builder and owner of the Mission Inn, originally moved here from Wisconsin in 1874 when he was 17 years old. He and his mother and sisters joined his father, who had already built a 12 room cottage of adobe and bricks and wood, located on what is now the Mission Inn. Their family took in boarders and additions were made to the house. Frank bought the house from his father, added more additions and the house became known as the Glenwood Tavern.
Frank Miller was determined to build a new hotel on the site of the family’s old home. He was not yet 30 years old, but the growing economy in Riverside convinced him that he would be successful. Originally his idea was to build a hotel like the Colorado Hotel in Glenwood Springs, but eventually, he was more impressed and inspired by the California Mission architecture. Drawing of Glenwood Hotel, 1883 Proposed New Glenwood Hotel Colorado Hotel, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Just as Frank Miller was inspired by and used many different styles in his hotel, he also worked with several important architects to create the beautiful Mission Inn. G. Stanley Wilson was from Riverside and he created the Rotunda, the St. Francis Chapel and Atrio, the Galeria, Author’s Row and the chime tower. He began working on the Mission Inn in 1909. Mr. Wilson and his architectural firm was also responsible for the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, built as a memorial to the World War I veterans, plm Elementary School, the Weber House, and the Arlington Branch Library.
Besides models, architects also use drawings when planning a building. This one was created by G. Stanley Wilson’s firm for the Mission Inn.
William Alexander Sharp drawing of the Mission Inn for architect Arthur B. Benton
Colored postcard of the St. Francis Atrio looking at the west side of Author’s Row.
Arthur Burnett Benton was another influential architect who worked with Frank Miller. Mr. Benton designed the Missioin Wing and the Cloister Wing. He was also responsible for the arches along Mission Inn Avenue, built in 1908, and the employee’s dormitory. Mr. Benson’s use of California Mission style in his work is the reason why so many people believe that the Mission Inn was once part of the chair of California Missions. In addition to his work on the Mission Inn, Mr. Benton also participated in the design and building of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, the bandstand at Fairmont Park, the Riverside Municipal Museum (working with Mr. Wilson), the Hole mansion and the Peace Tower on Mt. Tubidoux, built in honor of Frank Miller.
Leather-covered book with a Mission Inn emblem on the cover containing 29 pages with a poem written by architect Arthur B. Benton and artwork by William Alexander Sharp.
Frank Miller and architect Arthur B. Benton along with others at the dedication of the Peace Tower on Mt. Rubidoux in December 1925.
A third architect working with Frank Miller was Myron Hunt, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Hunt had worked in Boston and Chicago where he worked with several influential architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright. Mr. Hunt moved to Southern California in 1903, where he would eventually helped to build the California Institute of Technology in Pomona, Occidental College, the Rose Bowl, Pasadena City Library, the Ambassador Hotel, and the Henry E. Huntington Beaux arts mansion. In 1910, Hunt won first prize to design Riverside’s First Congregational Church, where Frank Miller taught Sunday school classes. Mr. Hunt designed the church tower in a Spanish baroque style called “Churrigueresque.” Mr. Hunt was hired by Mr. Miller to design the Spanish Wing of the Mission Inn, which resembled many of the grand galleries of Europe. Mr. Hunt went to also build permanent structures at March Air Force Base.
Framed pencil or charcoal drawing of the temporary cloth ceiling of the Spanish Art Gallery. Originally Mr. Hunt designed an elaborate wooden ceiling but Mr. Miller objected to the cost, so a gold cloth ceiling was substituted.
Many cultures and time periods influenced the architecture of the Mission Inn. After reading the California Mission Architecture Background Information Sheet and using your primary source worksheet, identify influences from mission architecture from each of the following slides:
The Rotunda of the Mission Inn In 1931, the final phase of the Mission Inn was complete which included the “Rotunda Internacional”. This rotunda included a variety of architectural forms including arcades, buttresses, flying buttresses, balconies, turrets, domes, and pinnacles. It is six stories high, 33 feet side and open to the sky. A wrought iron spiral staicase was designed with the Mission Inn “Raincross” and various monograms. Imbeded in the concrete are tile shields representing various countries and at one time statues of saints were placed in niches built into the walls. An optical illusion is created, as the circumference at the top of the Rotunda appears larger than the bottom.
Arches along Mission Inn Avenue Arches along Mission Inn Avenue
What elements of California Mission architecture are evident in the Mission Inn?