Riverside's most celebrated landmark is an eclectic fantasy of art and architecture that looms like a regal Spanish palace amid the bustle of downtown. The inn was founded in 1876 by Christopher Columbus Miller, a local engineer who erected a two-story adobe structure to serve as his family home and as a guest house. In 1902, his son Frank began expanding the hotel, adding a succession of new wings that eventually resulted in a 238-room pastiche of architectural styles, among them Oriental, Mission and Spanish Renaissance Revival. The Mission Inn's growing reputation attracted leading national and international figures, among them Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie.The U-shaped Mission Wing (1902), designed by Mission Revival proponent Arthur B. Benton, surrounds a lush courtyard known as the Court of the Birds for the parrots and macaws that formerly flew about it. The Cloister Wing (1910) features catacombs (now closed) and facades inspired by those at the Carmel mission and San Gabriel Arcángel Mission. The International Rotunda Wing houses offices, shops and the St. Francis Chapel, bedecked with an 18C Mexican altar encrusted with gold leaf, and seven Tiffany windows.In the Mission Inn Museum, artifacts and photographs tell the story of the hotel and its impact on developing Riverside.
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