Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sun-kissed in Riverside, California

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful little getaway for our 30th Wedding Anniversary. We stayed in Riverside, California, at the famed Mission Inn.

How did this historic landmark, complete with antique bells, flying buttresses, a medieval clock, Tiffany stained glass windows, Mediterranean domes, and a five-story rotunda come to be in a Southern California?

Riverside was the birthplace of the California citrus industry. In the late 1800’s, wealthy easterners and Europeans flocked to Riverside in search of both a warmer winter climate and to invest in the area’s profitable new sun-kissed commerce...

In the 1870's a second "Gold Rush" began in California with the arrival of golden sweet and seedless navel oranges.  Two trees were brought to Riverside from Brazil. Talk about perfect timing: in 1877 the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, allowing shipments of the luscious and sturdy fruit to be delivered to eager East Coasters!

The "citrus heyday" lasted from the 1880's - 1955.
During this time, citrus growers commissioned imaginative paper labels
from lithography companies in San Francisco and Los Angeles
to capture the attention of Eastern wholesale dealers.
(I saw these vintage labels in a used bookstore - more tomorrow!)

By the early 1900's people were coming to Riverside not only for its navel oranges, but for the Mission Inn! The Mission Inn evolved along with its surrounding community.

The hotel started as a two story adobe home, built in 1874 by the Miller family, who took in paying guests and soon added additional wings, calling it the Glenwood Hotel. But it was their 23-year-old son Frank, who purchased the home/hotel from his parents in 1880 and eventually made it into a popular resort, re-named the Mission Inn.

By the 1890’s, Riverside was the richest city per capita in the United States. The consistent influx of tourists to Riverside made Frank Miller recognize the desperate need for a grand resort hotel.  In 1902 he modernized it, and added a garden. He also hired an architect and added more wings. Then he began traveling the world...

Miller's travels took him to Europe and Asia, where he loved visiting shrines with his family and began collecting art and objects of interest (his favorites were bells and crosses) for his Inn.  He even had to create new areas of the hotel to accommodate his finds!

It is truly amazing how much he did to transform the hotel before his death in 1935. (Read more here...)
The medieval clock and fourth (top) floor rooms, "Author's Row" - where we stayed!

The next time you peel a sun-kissed (Sunkist) orange, I hope you'll think about Riverside, California and the Mission Inn.                                           Tomorrow I'll tell you about some children's books I found in Riverside (and more)... 

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