Master of the Mission Inn by Maurice Hodgen

Master of the Mission Inn

Frank A. Miller, A Life
Email this review


A focused, meticulously researched biography about Mission Inn hotelier Frank Augustus Miller.

“He is a live wire—a dreamer—a doer—a thinker—a planner—an idealist and a practicalist all combined.” These words about Miller, uttered by a friend, encapsulate the many sides to the Master of the Mission Inn, as he came to be known. From humble beginnings in Tomah, Wisconsin, the industrious Miller turned his family home into the luxurious Mission Inn in Riverside, California, over the course of 50 years. Miller, who arrived with his family in Riverside in 1874 at the age of 17, scrupulously maintained a diary that shed keen insight into his real-time feelings. These personal reflections—the book’s most rewarding section—illuminate his early fears, ambitions, love interests and struggles with temptations. An unwavering moralist, Miller held deeply ingrained religious values, and his desires for Riverside were held to this standard as his influence in town blossomed. Core values of generosity and charity became his lifelong compass and explain much of the ecclesiastical decorations that came to dominate the Mission Inn. Miller’s curiosity and energy never waned; he constantly sought wares far and wide to enhance the Mission Inn’s worldly aura. Stories about how Miller obtained some of the Mission Inn’s most unique pieces—including six Tiffany stained-glass chapel windows and a myriad of Japanese artifacts—are richly described. The Tiffany windows, as with much of the aesthetic at the Mission Inn, were influenced by the women in Miller’s life, and the story rightfully praises their often unheralded contributions. Hailed as the “first citizen” of Riverside, Miller had a journey parallel to the city’s progression; their histories can’t be untwined, and tracing Miller’s life allows for a comprehensive look into Riverside’s evolution from a pioneer town in the West to a modern, budding city. As a direct result of Miller’s dedicated work, the Mission Inn is Riverside’s greatest example of culture, prosperity and longevity.

Reverently remembers Miller’s contributions to the city of Riverside as well as to his life’s work: the Mission Inn.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9762785-1-1
Page count: 478pp
Publisher: Ashburton Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2014