Week 1 Challenge

Week 1

Downtown Challenge:

Riverside’s founders were guided by utopian ideals.  They envisaged a community with libraries, schools, churches, and cultural facilities.  Succeeding generations followed these ideals, filling the original Downtown mile square with unique buildings and institutions.  Downtown is also where the traditional Mission Inn Run has been held for more than 40 years. 

To complete this challenge: Run, walk, bike or otherwise move 1K, anywhere you like, representing one historic site in the challenge, for a total of 5K per challenge per week. Take a selfie or another picture of you and your friends at each historic site and share it on www.missioninnrun.org and your own social media with the hashtag #MissionInnRun. Not in Riverside? You can still meet the challenge by completing the distance component.  

How to submit your results: Visit www.missioninnrun.org and click on the Results page. Click Submit Results and log in.  In the drop-down button, select the Riverside Historic Landmark Weekly Challenge, select which historic site you visited, fill in your distance/time information and submit!


Mission Inn Hotel & Spa 

3649 Mission Inn Avenue

Riverside’s most unique and famous building is the Mission Inn. While an operating hotel, it contains numerous art collections, two chapels, a museum, and rooms furnished with artifacts from around the world.  The architecture, as well as the hotel’s name, reflects a fascination with Southern California’s Mission and Spanish heritage.  Built in several phases between 1902 and 1932 by owner Frank A. Miller, the Inn provided a showcase for artwork and other items acquired on his world travels. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is a designated National Historic Landmark and was Riverside’s first official city landmark.  


Old City Hall 

3612 Mission Inn Avenue

This was Riverside’s first municipally-owned City Hall, and the local leaders wanted an impressive structure,  The architect chose the more elaborate Spanish  Revival style that had superseded Mission Revival in popularity. Features that help identify the are the asymmetrical shape, the tower, and the decorated facades.  These design elements contrast with the Neoclassical (or Italian Renaissance Revival) museum building across the street. The Old City hall was used until 1975.  It was sold and completely restored by private owners in 1985 for office use.


Riverside County Courthouse 

4050 Main Street

Riverside “seceded” from San Bernardino County in 1893, primarily because of what community leaders, like Frank Miller of the Mission Inn, considered to be San Bernardino’s onerous tax policies.   After separation, these leaders wanted to build a county courthouse worthy of the Riverside’s new status as a California county.   Frank Miller pushed for the Mission Revival Style, but the supervisors chose Beaux Arts.   This elaborate version of the Neoclassical Style had become very popular for government buildings in the U.S. The style originated in Paris in the latter part of the 19th century. It featured   the classical forms of Greek and Roman architecture with more elaborate sculpture and bas-relief panels.     The courthouse was designed by Franklin Pierce Burnham of Los Angeles and built in 1903-04.  The architect was inspired by the facades of both the Grand Palace and the Pepit Palace of the 1900 Paris Exposition.  Some architectural historians say this is the region’s most significant building. Riversiders have fiercely opposed any changes to the exterior façade. The building was restored in 1995 at a cost of $25 million.


Museum of Riverside 

3580 Mission Inn Avenue

The architects could not decide on this building’s style. The symmetrical shape and the tall, impressive columns suggest the Italian Renaissance Revival  or Neoclassical style. However, the curved gable at the roofline and the tile roof are definitely elements of Mission Revival Style, which was very much in fashion in 1912,   Originally built  as a post office, the round medallions above the entrance are post office symbols. The one on the right is easy to identify as a pony express rider.  The City purchased and converted the building to the police station in 1945.  The city museum began in unused basement space occupied the entire building in 1966, when a new police station was built . The Temperance Fountain now sits in front of the museum.   The Women’s Christian Temperance Union placed it originally in front of the old YMCA building on University Avenue and Lemon Street  in 1907. Likely the WTCU chose this location hoping the fountain would deter young men from visiting local saloons.


Riverside Art Museum

3425 Mission Inn Ave

Riverside’s interest in art went back to its earliest days. Art groups formed and were encouraged by prominent  citizens like Frank Miller, who gave them space for meetings and work. The art groups continued at the Inn until Miller’s grandchildren sold the Inn in 1956. By this time the groups had coalesced into the Riverside Art Association, RAA  (later the Riverside Art Museum, RAM).  The City provided a small facility for a few years, but the expanding programs required the RAA board members to look for a larger building. In early 1966, they discovered the historic YWCA was for sale. The Y WCA had purchased a new site out on Magnolia Ave. A grass-roots campaign raised the funds and on a cool September evening in 1966, the RAA president presented the YWCA president with a check in a brief ceremony on the front steps.  RAA converted the indoor swimming pool on one side and the basketball courts on the other to large exhibition galleries.

The YWCA was constructed in 1929. Frank Miller was on the board, but the women members overrode his objections and selected Julia Morgan as the architect. This amazing woman undoubtedly is America’s most famous female architect. Her most notable project is Hearst Castle, designed over a period of  years for the powerful newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.  She did many YMCA buildings. She designed a Beaux Arts Style building with some Spanish Revival elements for Riverside. Frank Miller wanted the Mission Revival Style.  Nevertheless, he contributed half of the site cost. 


Source: Downtown Riverside Historic Walking Guide

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