June 16, 2024

The Mission Inn Museum, housed at the iconic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Downtown Riverside, may lose its space if the hotel and the Mission Inn Foundation cannot come to an agreement on the terms of its lease.

For decades, the museum, operated by the Mission Inn Foundation, has showcased local history within the hotel, which was built in 1902, according to its website.

“The Mission Inn Foundation perseveres, interprets, and promotes the cultural heritage of the Mission Inn, Riverside, and the surrounding southern California communities through its Museum services, educational programs, and outreach activities,” reads the mission statement of the Mission Inn Foundation.

Originally, the Mission Inn was owned by Frank Augustus Miller. Miller had the hotel filled with valuable items from all over the globe. These items included artwork, furniture and religious relics. Most of these items can be seen today in the Mission Inn Museum. The oldest bell in Christendom dating back to 1247 is also located at the Mission Inn, according to the history outlined on the hotel’s website.

It has hosted everyone from U.S. presidents to Albert Einstein, and it holds an important place in the city’s development.

“The character of the Mission Inn links to its vital role in racial integration and commerce for decades in downtown Riverside,” said Dr. Tim Gramling, assistant professor of business, dean of the School of Business and vice president of Diversity. “Without this historical link, the Mission Inn could just as easily be a Marriott or Hilton-branded location.”

Today, the Mission Inn holds events for Riverside residents, such as the Festival of Lights, and offers guided tours.

The Mission Inn Foundation first managed the hotel while it was owned by the City of Riverside Redevelopment Agency until the hotel and spa became privately owned by Duane and Kelly Roberts in 1993.  

However, the Historic Mission Inn Corporation and the City of Riverside served the Mission Inn Foundation and Museum an eviction notice in October, the result of complications that came down from the California legislature, according to the LA tIMES. With this eviction, the right to host a museum, give tours and care for the collections are at risk. A petition to save the museum was started at missioninnmuseum.org. 

“The City recognizes the importance of the Mission Inn, the value of the museum and the many hours that docents have devoted to providing tours of the Inn and supporting the Foundation. The City remains hopeful a solution still can be reached,” according to a statement from the city.

Grace Letherer, junior art education major, has visited the Mission Inn Museum and found much beauty in it. 

“I feel like any time in history when we get rid of something it, unfortunately, results in the loss of a beautiful thing,” Letherer said. “In the same way, it saddens me.”

The Mission Inn Foundation added on its website: “Our offer to HMIC to resolve our situation through meditation remains open, and we welcome the opportunity to find a solution where everyone wins. While we work to resolve our differences, the Foundation will continue to serve our community.” 

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