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  • Writer's pictureCrystal Coleman

What is Mission Revival Architecture?

Our city is graced with one of the most spectacular examples of Mission Revival architecture, the Mission Inn! And when you start to look around Riverside, Mission Revival influences are everywhere, from our Metropolitan Museum to our iconic city symbol the Raincross. Nowhere in Southern California was this influence found stronger than in Riverside.

But where did this style originate from? First, lets turn back the clock to 1769 the year the first Mission was established in San Diego by the Spanish settlers. For the next 54 years 21 Spanish Missions would scatter its way up our golden state. These Missions represent some of the oldest California architecture to date. Fast forward to 1865 just after the California Gold Rush, interest and desire to travel to California was at an all-time high, but up until that point traveling to the west was arduous and even deadly. Thanks to the transcontinental Railway, the first railroad that linked California to the rest of the country, travelers could now safely visit the Golden State.

Around that same time architecturally was the “Revival” movement. An aesthetic that looked back and focused mostly on the great neo classical styles of Old World Europe such as Georgian. As this movement swept over the east coast, the Wild West looked for inspiration in its Hispanic heritage. 100 years after the first Mission, there was a push to preserve and restore the then crumbling historic structures. The style was adopted by both the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe Railways for train stations, resort hotels, and other rail corridor buildings, essentially as an effort to “theme” the Southwest for eastern travelers. The style includes mission-shaped dormers and/or roof parapet; wide, overhanging eaves with exposed rafter beams, red-tiled roof, stucco walls, and arched windows or doors on the ground level.

The turn of the century was a melting pot of many architectural influences, one of the largest at this time was the Arts and Crafts movement which swept over southern California in the shape of Craftsman Bungalows, primary inspired by the work of the Greene brothers who practiced in Pasadena from 1893 to 1914. The Arts and Crafts movement was not about a particular style or set of design requirements but focused on the lost art of age-old skills in furniture making, woodworking and construction, a return to natural materials, craftsmanship, and a truer design aesthetic. Mission style adopted this philosophy and incorporated well-crafted inglenooks and built-in cabinetry, beamed ceilings, and handmade metal details like cabinet hardware and lighting fixtures. That’s why you may walk into many grand Mission style homes and scratch your head and say, “It looks like I’m in a craftsman”.

The finest examples of these merging styles are currently on the market at 4541 & 4587 Mission Inn ave.

Both of these Grand Mission Revival homes speak of the past with the character and elegance of our California roots but look to the future with the modern conveniences and updates you would expect from a modern home. If you’re interested in owning a piece of California history and would like to schedule a private tour, or curious about the history and value of your historic home, call or email us, we would love to hear from you!

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