The haunting of the Inn

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By Sandra Diaz

Hallways at the Mission Inn give off an eerie light. (Sandra Diaz)

By Sandra Diaz

I just want to get out of here.

My initial feelings were that of fear while exploring the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa, a creepy old building in the heart of Riverside’s downtown area.

Standing four stories tall and taking up an entire block, the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa is one of the most beautiful and creepiest buildings I’ve ever been in.

The architecture is a hodgepodge of styles influenced by various cultures from Italian to Japanese.

The add-ons don’t seem to fit with the original mission style design, but flows seamlessly into a striking combination, turning the building itself into a work of art.

The beauty of the Mission Inn is even more prominent when you go inside.

Filled with hidden spiral staircases, an eclectic art collection and an animated clock tower designed by original owner Frank Miller’s sister Alice, it is easy to imagine a guest staying at the hotel to get lost exploring the hotel before even reaching their room.

On top of all its beauty and grandeur, the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa is considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in downtown Riverside.

For a building that has no reason to be shrouded in mystery or misfortune the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa has supposedly been subject to multiple occurrences of the paranormal over the years.

Originally, there was a boarding house called the Glenwood built in 1876 by Christopher Columbus Miller in the place of the Mission Inn.

The Glenwood was made into a hotel after being sold to Miller’s son Frank Miller in 1902.

The Mission Inn became an on going project and homage to art for Miller, who added onto the existing building, collecting art from all over the world as well as befriending musicians playing at the theater down the street by inviting them into the hotel.

Under Frank Miller’s management, the hotel became a hot spot for celebrities as well as politicians and world leaders.

The hotel’s popularity waned after Frank Miller’s death in 1935 and finally sold in 1956.

Since then, ownership has passed around from various groups trying to renovate the building, but were not successful until the 80s.

It seems as if every inch of the hotel has bared witness to strange happenings.

According to, a website dedicated to providing information about ghost haunting as well as ghost hunting, there are at least eleven areas throughout the hotel that have been subject to supernatural occurances.

Frank Miller’s sister Alice has appeared in one way or another all over the building.

A majority of the rooms speculated to be haunted were once inhabited by the Miller’s when they owned the hotel.

By far, the most frightening site of these occurrences is in the Honeymoon Suite, where there have been multiple reports of people being pushed down the spiral staircase by no one.

From the second I walked into the Mission Inn I was transported into another world filled with stories long since lost to the public and the mystery as to why that is.

While looking around the hotel, I completely forgot I was in downtown Riverside, an area that is the heartbeat of Riverside’s modern art and music scene.

Leaving the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa felt similar to the feeling I get when leaving Disneyland; jumping back into reality wondering when I will return.

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