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original extreme hotel design

entrance to chapel

Seeing this photo, you’d imagine this to be found in some small Spanish village, but we recently went to a brunch at the Mission Inn in Riverside, CA. A lot of SoCal people have never heard of this unusual place, let alone have made the trip out to see it.The first time I went I really couldn’t believe the quality of the architecture and details.

original vintage post card

This great hotel was built mostly between 1902-1935 and the styles encompass everything from Mission Revival to Moorish, Spanish Colonial and even Renaissance. One of the only places that have this mix of these architecture styles, in really in the entire western United States in my mind seems to be Hearst Castle. They were built at about the same time- but of course Randolph Hearst, backed by his fortune built on American newspapers, had the means to build on a far grander scale and Hearst actually purchased and imported entire architectural features and entire rooms over from Europe- that’s another great story that maybe we’ll talk about another time.

Without going into much detail, pre-war architecture here in the states looked mostly overseas for inspiration and design and we still have many gorgeous , quality residential and commercial buildings encompassing these styles (and thankfully, we seem to be tearing them down less frequently). Southern California is unique also in our wealth of original Spanish missions- built by the founding padres in the style of important Spanish buildings which greatly influenced our California architecture,(consider the entire city of Santa Barbara) up into even todays new construction- continued in the over-abundance of extremely watered down-massacred and mangled “Tuscan-Mediterranean”. But don’t get me started on that.

The Mission Inn went through a series of ownerships, hard times and even faced possible demolition- but, thank you to the current owner who completed many crucial renovations, we’re all free to take a mini-European vaca right here in SoCal.

Check out this absolutely incredible stairwell- For some reason, I could totally see Maria Von Trapp and the kids popping their heads out of these arches with their guitars in the “daytrip to Salzburg” montage! Hahaha !

top level water features out side guest suites

This area with a water feature is actually up on the 3rd floor of part of the hotel. You really have to just walk around the grounds and lose yourself as literally there is some incredible structure and view are around every corner.

top level guest suites wing

Hector at the end of a beautifully designed example of flying buttresses. Oh, you can run Hector, but you can’t hide.

“Flying buttresses” could have been an 80’s band name-but, seriously, how many places do you see flying buttresses in California? This feature was originally quite a functional invention- those cool angled supports you walk under transfer the weight of the building’s roof away from the walls and down to the ground. This originally allowed for much larger areas of the building to be made of glass and greatly changed the look of architecture and also made the fortunes of the stained glass guys during the medieval period when these buttresses were invented- yes, they were so lucky, maybe they could treat their wives to a few more goats- if they didn’t blow it all on mead.

But I digress.

If you’re a fan of beautifully imagined European style architecture, this is such a wonderful local day trip! They also really do the place up quite nicely for Christmas- so worth a visit then as well!

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

3649 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

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