Spanish Historical Buildings of Riverside make the downtown area of the City Unique in the Inland Empire

I have worked in Downtown Riverside and was aware of two buildings that always caught my attention....One was the Mission Inn and the other was the Train Station....It wasn't till I started really looking that I realized that there were several buildings in the City of a Historical Nature, and I happened to work in one of them and eat in one of the others.


Here are a few of the more important buildings that make up the unique atmosphere of Riverside.
The first is the Arcade Building located at 3602 University Ave in Riverside....I actually worked in this office building when I worked for Express Process Servers in 1996 through 1998....This old building has many twist and turns and even hidden walkways embedded in the structure of the building.....Getting out to the new parking structure built along side was even an adventure as you had to go up elevators that were 70 years old, slow as molasses and then walking on a metal bridge out across the lower floors....Built in 1928, this Spanish Renaissance building is an example of the arcade style popular in Riverside from 1928- 29 and has been retro-fitted for earth quake safety.


The Aurea Vista Hotel at 3480 University Ave, has been turned into an improvised office building, and the top floor is the home of the California Riverside ballet....It is also located right next to the 91 freeway....I wonder how many times you have driven by on the 91 and never given the building a second thought.....or maybe you actually wondered about it.....Designed in the Spanish Moorish style by architect G. Stanley Wilson, the building was constructed in 1927 for Fred Stebler, a pioneer in the local manufacture of citrus packing equipment.....Actually this whole block, right down to 14th street is full of unusual buildings....The Crescent Hotel Built in 1908 and the Mission Revival style Button Building built in 1918 occupy this area.


The Bonnett Building, Constructed in 1908 and located at 3800 Orange Ave, was extensively remodeled in 1928 when a street widening project required the setback of the lower floor and arches were added at the new curb line to support the second floor.


The Chinese Pavilion located on the corner of Mission Inn Ave and Orange Street was constructed in 1987 to honor the Chinese role in the early development of Riverside and surrounding region, and was funded by private donations and the government of the Republic of China.


The DeAnza Hotel at 3425 Market St is located in the southern part of down town.....It was built in 1927 by owner/architect G. Stanley Wilson who designed most of the Spanish style buildings in downtown Riverside....The Hotel was sold and is now known as the Santa Cruz Inn.


Many of the buildings listed below, were visited by me on more than one occasion....trouble is, when you are in a hurry you tend to miss those little details that would allow your or me to realize that I was working or walking into a famous building.....for instance, I was in and out of the Mission Inn so often, i did not appreciate the Buildings history or style.


The Mission Inn, located at 3649 Mission Inn Ave was 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.....Many of the items are still used in the hotel and others are on display in the first floor museum operated by the Mission Inn Foundation. Architects for the Inn included Arthur Benton, Myron Hunt and G. Stanley Wilson.....The architecture, as well as the hotel's name, reflect Southern California's fascination with its Spanish heritage. The Inn has hosted a number of famous visitors and public figures: Presidents Taft, Roosevelt and Ford; President and Mrs. Nixon were married in the Mission Inn Chapel.....The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated National Historic Landmark.....But not with standing its grandeur Spanish political like presence in Down town riverside, it also a great lace to eat....The Mission Inn Restaurant is highly regarded as one of the premier establishments in the Inland Empire to eat at....And of course, reservations are a must.


This next building is another of those buildings that you visit quite often but don't realize the significance of it.....The Old City Hall at 3612 Mission Inn Ave is one of those places....I was in the building at least twice a day picking up legal work from our clients and it never dawned on me that I was in a special building....Of course, i was happy just to be in Riverside....I always hated going to downtown LA and I still do.....The Building was used from 1924 until 1975 as Riverside's first municipally owned City Hall, the Spanish Renaissance Revival building was restored by private owners in 1985 for its current legal and other office use.


There are so many buildings in Riverside that have a claim to fame as one sort of architecture or another, this article would be much long, so I will concentrate on one last set of buildings that set outside of the Downtown area, but are even more important to the city, financially and historically.  The first is the Santa Fe Railroad Depot located on the east side of the 91 freeway since the 91 does run north in this area before it meets the 60, 91, 215 junction on the corner of Mission Inn and Santa Fe....The building was built as a passenger terminal by the Santa Fe Rail Road in 1927 and also reflects the Hispanic mood of the city.....When Burlington Northern bought the Santa Fe recently, it was completely refurbished.


The other Historic Rail Road Passenger Station was built by the Union Pacific Railroad Depot in 1904, as the first major Passenger station in the area.....It too was built in the Mission Revival style for the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, the building was one of several similar stations constructed on the land surrounding the UPRD.....When UP ceased Passenger operations in the 80's, the building sat empty for a few years until it was sold to private developers....It currently houses Coffee Depot.


As I wrote above, Riverside is home to several other Historic Spanish and Hispanic Buildings.....If you ever have a few hours to spare or a chance to take the day off and take the kids along, I'm sure that you will enjoy your adventure in Riverside.....Plenty of places to visit and several excellent places to eat await the shutterbug adventurer.


Gary Hall, the ghostpainter

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