This inn is an honest and just tribute to the influence of the Old Mission Fathers of California, as necessary to a complete understanding of the far-reaching power of their work as is El Camino Real, the Mission Play, or the Mission Style of architecture. After listening to lectures on the work of the Franciscan padres and visiting the Missions themselves, its owners, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Miller, humanely interested in the welfare of the Mission Indians, collectors of the handicrafts of these artistic aborigines, and students of what history tells us of them, began, some twenty-five years ago, to realize that in the Mission idea was an ideal for a modern hotel. Slowly the suggestion grew, and as they discussed it with those whose knowledge enabled them to appreciate it, the clearer was it formulated, until some ten or a dozen years ago time seemed ripe for its realization. Arthur B. Benton, one of the leading architects of Southern California, formulated plans, and the hotel was erected. Its architecture conforms remarkably to that of the Missions. On Seventh Street are the arched corridors of San Fernando, San Juan Capistrano, San Miguel and San Antonio de Padua; inside is an extensive patio and the automobiles stop close to the Campanile reproducing the curved pediments of San Gabriel. On the Sixth Street side is the fachada of Santa Barbara Mission, and over the corner of Sixth and Orange Streets is the imposing dome of San Carlos Borromeo in the Carmelo Valley, flanked by buttresses of solid concrete, copies of those of San Gabriel.
The walls throughout are massive and unbroken by any other lines than those of doors, windows and eaves, and the roofs are covered with red tiles. In the Bell Tower a fine chime of bells is placed the playing of which at noon and sunset recalls the matins and vespers of the Mission days.
Within the building, the old Mission atmosphere is wonderfully preserved. In the Cloister Music Room the windows are of rare and exquisite stained glass, showing St. Cecilia, the seats are cathedral stalls of carved oak; the rafters are replicas of the wooden beams of San Miguel, and the balcony is copied from the chancel rail of the same Mission. Mission sconces, candelabra, paintings, banners, etc., add to the effect, while the floor is made in squares of oak with mahogany parquetry to remind the visitor of the square tile pavements found in several of the old Missions.
Daily—three times—music is called forth from the cathedral organ and harp, and one may hear music of every type, from the solemn, stately harmonies of the German choral, the crashing thunders of Bach’s fugues and Passion music, to the light oratorios, and duets and solos of Pergolesi.
By the side of the Music Room is the Cloistered Walk, divided into sections, in each of which some distinctive epoch or feature of Mission history is represented by mural paintings by modern artists of skill and power. The floor is paved with tiles from one of the abandoned Missions.