Riverside’s ghostly history

By Courtney Grabendike

By Courtney Grabendike

Riverside may not be as boring as many residents often claim. That is living residents, of course.

The 10-mile radius around Riverside City College encompasses a multitude of locations that are harboring paranormal activity.

The Mission Inn takes the gold medal for the most active site in Riverside. Originally a 12 room cottage, The Mission Inn was bought and renovated into a hotel in the early 1900s.

After it was sold to him, Frank Miller became sole owner of the hotel while his sister, Alice, managed the hotel. It is now said that the Miller’s haunt the Inn on a regular basis.

Two places most strongly visited are the rooms that were occupied by Frank and Alice when they were still living. Visitors to “Aunt Alice’s” room on the fourth floor have claimed to walk through cold spots, felt touches when no one else was around and witnessed apparitions.

Similar reports have come from visitors to Frank Miller’s room, which is one of only a few rooms not restored during the hotel’s closure from 1985-1992.

Couples staying in the honeymoon suite have reportedly complained about being pushed down the spiral staircase of the two story room, while other guests and employees talk of unexplained noises coming from the storage shed behind the hotel.

Perhaps it is the voice of a construction worker who reportedly died in the late while working on the renovation.

The Mission Inn is also notoriously known for its catacombs. Now entirely closed off to the public, the catacombs, once an underground museum, lead mainly to Mt. Rubidoux, another haunted Riverside location.

It has been said if one visits the mountain late at night, old spirits can be seen walking freely amongst the shrubbery and rock.

Not too far from the Mt. Rubidoux foothills lies the Riverside Evergreen Cemetery. “My friend and I used to sneak into the crematorium at the cemetery until we heard a loud boom one day from inside, but no one was around but us” said Matt Hull, a neighbor of the haunted burial ground.

A bit further down the road, the Riverside Municipal Auditorium is said to have a resident ghost. It is rumored that many years ago, a patron of the theater died during a production of “The Nutcracker.”

It seems he stuck around to finish what his surprise demise did not allow. The list of haunted locations goes on and on from Castle Park, to the Press Enterprise Building and UCR’s Riviera Library. But perhaps the most interesting of all the haunted places in Riverside lies within and beneath California Baptist University.

In the early 1900’s, Frank Miller, opened “The New Homes of Woodcraft.” What many do not know however, was that the beautiful four story mission style villa was really an insane asylum.

For precautionary measures, underground catacombs were constructed to allow hospital employees in and out after the asylum was locked down for the day. The basement now houses college offices, but entrances to the catacombs are still located throughout the original campus building.

It is said that sometimes late at night one can hear knocking coming from the secret doors but when approached all there is to be discovered is an open door with cold air rushing out.

The spirits of the asylum patients are still ever present and looming below the college’s grounds.

Being the hotspot that it is, it is surprising that the Riverside Plaza does not get investigated more for paranormal activity. “I was told that back before anything was here, the mafia in Riverside used to bring their victims to this plot of land to torture and kill them,” said a plaza employee who wished to remain annonymous. A Borders employee said they had seen a cup move on its own, while another team member reported feeling cold spots in one corner of the store and randomly smelling urine as she passed by.

How can anyone know that these ghosts or any others in Riverside are legitimate? Obviously it is very hard to prove paranormal activity is occurring at these Riverside locations, but groups such as Riverside Investigators of the Paranormal have made it their mission to prove and disprove the presence of ghouls.

Not just any one can join Riverside Investigators of the Paranormal; one must be experienced and dedicated to searching out spirits at any given location. Web sites such as http//www.unsolvedmysteries.com and http//www.theshadowlands.net also provide insight to many locations throughout Riverside and other Inland Empire cities that harbor paranormal activity. In the wake of Halloween, it is obvious that the living and breathing residents of Riverside are not its’ only occupants. We are visited and haunted by our Riverside predecessors frequently; we are never alone.