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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mission Inn Hotel



What place could even come close to comparing to the insanity of Winchester Mansion? Mission Inn Hotel. This building began as a 12-room adobe boarding house called the Glenwood Cottage, built by civil engineer Christopher Columbus Miller in 1876. After his death, Miller's son Frank took over the business. He gave it a new name, Mission Inn, and gradually expanded the hotel until the day he died in 1935. The 12-room structure grew to 239 rooms extended over an entire city block.

His vision for the building extended many styles including Moroccan, Mediterranean, Chinese, Turkish, Babylonian, Spanish, Oriental, Italian Renaissance, and Gothic-Hawaiian. The building contains narrow passageways, exterior arcades, a medieval-style clock, a five-story rotunda, innumerable patios and windows, castle towers, minarets, a Cloister Wing (with Catacombs), flying buttresses, Mediterranean domes and a pedestrian sky bridge. The reason for some of the complexity was tailored to Frank's height challenged sister. Miller also traveled the world bringing treasures back to display in his hotel. This includes his bell collection containing over 800 bells, one dating back to the year 1274. The value of some of the artifacts is estimated well over $5 million.

Pat and Richard Nixon were married in one of the two wedding chapels. Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymooned there as well. The Presidential Lounge pays homage to 10 U.S. presidents who have visited the hotel.The bar stands where President Theodore Roosevelt once slept during his visit in 1903. Other presidents who have visited include Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. A chair stands in the lobby specially made for President William Howard Taft. Miller heard about the incident when Taft was stuck in the White House bathtub and had the chair made for the banquet held in his honor.

Numerous entertainers have also passed through the doors including Clark Gable, Harry Houdini, Bette Davis (married at the inn in 1945), Cary Grant, the Osbournes, Ethel and Drew Barrymore, Governor Schwarzenegger James Brolin and Barbara Streisand. Social leaders such as Susan B. Anthony, Henry Ford, Booker T. Washington, Joseph Pulitzer, and Helen Keller. Carrie Jacobs-Bond wrote the lyrics of her famous song "A Perfect Day" during her stay at the Mission Inn in 1909.

After Miller died in 1935, his daughter and son-in-law Allis and DeWitt Hutchings managed the inn until their deaths in 1952 and 1953. Then ownership shifted hands a multitude of times. Some of the older rooms were even converted in to apartments. The building was at one point on the brink of being demolished. In December 1992, the Inn was sold to Duane R. Roberts, a Riverside businessman, and lover of the Inn and was reopened to the public shortly after.

With someone who puts so much love and history in to a place, why would they want to leave? The Miller family is believed to haunt the location. Guests have reported hearing beautify singing coming from empty rooms, large blue lights floating in the air, touched and pushed by unseen hands, and equipment malfunctioning. Apparitions have been seen walking hallways, floating near the ceiling in the Dining Room, and the storage building behind the hotel.

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