A National Historic Site, the hotel began as a 12-room boarding house in the late 1800s which catered to the needs of elite Europeans and east coast residents migrating to California in search of a 'sunny' climate. According to the Inn's website, "By the 1890’s, Riverside was the richest city per capita in the United States. The consistent influx of tourists to Riverside made Frank Miller, the Master of the Inn, recognize the dire need for a grand resort hotel. And so, the evolution of The Mission Inn began.
Frank Miller opened the first wing of his new hotel in 1903. The Mission Wing was built in Mission-Revival style architecture and incorporated different structural elements of the 21 California Missions. Mr. Miller went onto add three more wings to his hotel: the Cloister, the Spanish, and finally completed it with the Rotunda wing in 1931.
The Inn is now considered one of the premier hotels in the United States.
In 1932, the St. Francis Chapel was completed. Just outside the entrance to the chapel is the Flier's Wall. Both the chapel and the wall are considered an International Shrine to Aviators. The original purpose of the wall was a place for famous aviators to leave a record of their visit to the Inn. They did this by etching their name and the date of a pair of copper wings which were attached to the wall. Copper birds or eagles were used for non-pilots honored for their contributions to aviation. As the Miller's became passionate collectors of aviation memorabilia, they began inviting notable aviation personalities to attend a ceremony in their honor. There are now 141 wings and/or birds on the wall.
In order to appreciate the Inn to the fullest, take a tour sponsored by the Mission Inn Museum. It is fantastic - the history you will learn will be monumental. The restaurants are excellent. My husband and I prefer to eat in the patio in order to have a view of the hotel surrounding the eating area. For more information - www.missioninn.com