Part Of This Brick Stable House Still Stands Today
by Jessica Dailey
This arched brick building was built more than a century ago as a stable and carriage house for a wealthy New Yorker. It was praised for its design when it was built, as it had carved woodwork, burnished wrought iron details, and the stalls were kept “clean and trim.”
The carriage house could fit “every style of pleasure vehicle that a gentleman’s fancy can picture,” and the building’s second use was solely for cars. Today, only a portion of the building remains. Do you know where it is or who it was originally built for?
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by Scott Bridges
Beginning in 1876 as a two-story adobe guesthouse, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in historic downtown Riverside, approximately 55 miles east of Los Angeles, now occupies an entire city block that encompasses 320,000 square-feet.
I made the short trek out the 60 Freeway to the 91 interchange recently to get my first glimpse of the hotel as it celebrated its 110th anniversary. I had not expected such grandeur. The mission-style structure is the crowning jewel of a charming downtown. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a State of California Historic Landmark, and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.
Tours of the property are available through the Mission Inn Foundation, which operates the on-property museum. Docents are available to give 75-minute presentations of the history behind the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. While touring the property, I careened back and forth between being educated and awed.
More than $7 million of antiques and artifacts adorn the hotel. The museum displays an extensive collection of artifacts from around the world, including Craftsman period furniture, 16th and early 20th century paintings and Far Eastern historical pieces.
In 1903, original owner Frank Miller began to expand the original facilities, a process that took more than three decades to complete, and which incorporates design elements from across the southwestern U.S. and the Mediterranean, with a particular influence from the California missions. It incorporated the work of notable California architects like Arthur Benton, Myron Hunt and G. Stanley Wilson, whose work blended several architectural elements, such as flying buttresses, domes, a bell tower, clock towers, interior courtyards and patios, a five-story open-air rotunda and a circular wrought-iron staircase.
In December 1992, the hotel reopened after a seven-year, $55 million renovation. Today, under the guidance of owner Duane R. Roberts, the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa includes 238 guest rooms, including 27 suites. The property also contains 20,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, 5,000 square-feet of outdoor courtyard space, an outdoor swimming pool and two wedding chapels.
Over the years, the Inn has hosted numerous dignitaries, including five acting presidents. It was the site of Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s honeymoon, and has been the site of countless weddings, including both Bette Davis’ and Richard and Pat Nixon’s. On-property staff coordinates weddings large and small at the ornate St. Cecilia Chapel and the breathtaking St. Francis of Assisi Chapel.
With some $17 million in renovations over the last five years, every room has been revamped, and all feature distinct architectural details like domed ceilings, wrought-iron balconies, tile floors, stained glass windows or carved pillars.
The hotel features pampering, restorative and wellness treatments at Kelly’s Spa, a luxurious, serene European-style spa. The 7,000 square foot spa has a dozen treatment rooms, a pair of spa villas and a nail salon. It offers a variety of variety of therapeutic massage and revitalizing treatments, as well as soaking tubs, outdoor patio.
There is also an outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, as well as a fitness center. In addition, there are recreational activities nearby including tennis, golf, shopping and wine tasting.
The Inn featuers several dining options, none more impressive than Duane’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, the Inland Empire’s only AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. It recently earned the Golden Bacus Award for outstanding wine selections. Duane’s embraces a farm-to-table philosophy and features a menu that includes many small plates and shareable dishes.
Duane’s steaks are a reminder of why human beings took up meat-eating in the first place. The Porterhouse and the Filet Mignon Oscar are worthy of song. And the scallops are the size of hockey pucks and practically melt on the fork. Furthermore, the lobster bisque is so rich and creamy with chunks of lobster meat strewn throughout, it is like liquid love.
And for dessert, nothing beats the chocolate soufflé with Grand Marnier and whipped cream. It’s proof of a devil. But for something heavenly, there’s Kelly’s apple pie — a small, full pie made with Guinness-soaked Granny Smiths.
54 Degrees at Duane’s: This interactive wine bar accompanies Duane’s, and offers an eclectic menu of wines and small bites in an upbeat, sophisticated setting. Impressively, there are more than 450 wines on the list and upwards of 7,000 bottles from around the world located in and under the restaurant (the catacombs beneath the Inn are the stuff of legend). There are an incredible 32 wines by the glass, and even by the 1.5-ounce and 3.2-ounce pour.
A handful of other restaurants offer something for every appetite. And for your sweet tooth, there’s Casey’s Cupcakes, winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Casey Reinhardt’s confection boutique is reminiscent of a Parisian café, and features glass cases full of colorfully decorated cupcakes, each topped with Casey’s signature chocolate medallion.
Having lived in Southern California most of my life, I now consider it a travesty that I had never taken the opportunity to visit Riverside until now. I found its downtown to be an oasis of culture in the midst of a suburb-spotted desert. And the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is the city’s finest attraction.
This rustic-chic Galveston house has haunted beginnings
In a historic Victorian that was once reportedly inhabited by ghosts, a Houston boutique owner finds a bright, rustic-chic Galveston getaway
By Melanie Warner
The breeze blowing in from the Gulf on this day in Galveston is cool, and sun floods the gray painted wood plank flooring of the outdoor space, which is just large enough for the charming swing, an Adirondack chair and a small wicker table with a container of seashells on the bottom shelf.
The owner of the Rice Village linen and home store Olivine, Stroud, who also has a home in The Woodlands, bought this circa-1899 Victorian home in 2008 after Hurricane Ike using an inheritance from her aunt. In the ensuing months, she transformed the dark – and reportedly haunted, but more on that later – house into a bright, casual weekend retreat that combines rustic French country coziness and just a hint of coastal flair with elements paying homage to Stroud’s Louisiana roots.
“The truth is, when I first walked into this house, I thought it was so creepy,” said Stroud.
This diminutive balcony is accessed via what Stroud believes is a “trunk room,” which in homes of this era and style is where the well-heeled, well-traveled Victorian families would store their traveling trunks. It’s possible also that this small, single window room is a “bedroom” what we now call bedrooms were at the time referred to as “chambers.”
Whereas the chamber was a room for sleeping and dressing, the bedroom typically contained a daybed and would be used for naps, so that beds in the proper chambers weren’t messed up.
“It was not my taste at all,” said Stroud. “There was stenciling. The kitchen had big, huge ceramic tile [that] was a dark wine color.”
So Stroud ripped the dark tile and drab brown cabinets out of the kitchen, opting instead for painted gray wood floors and white Ikea shelves and cabinets. The countertops are butcher-block style, and the pièce de résistance is a deep, white porcelain farmhouse sink paired with a curvaceous Perrin & Rowe faucet.
Stroud made the executive decision to use the front living room as the dining room, and the dining room as the living room. She appointed each room with a combination of both rustic and soft, feminine elements, which along with the natural pine floors, creates an inviting atmosphere.
The living room, awash in white and gray, is appointed with four chairs and a sofa all slip-covered by Houston-based upholsterers and furniture purveyors Hein Lam. The coffee table has a wrought iron base and oval marble top, and a distressed wood table is nestled under the flat screen TV. A handful of decorative items – such as a shell-covered trunk and baskets – and art are placed on tabletops and the walls, but the overall look is sparse.
In the dining room, Stroud departed from the white and gray color palette, opting for blue walls. Stroud’s daughter, Catherine Stroud, created the farmhouse-style table using salvaged wood acquired locally at Antiques Warehouse, with the help of its owner and family friend, Scott Hanson.
Off the dining room is a generous foyer, with a long, blue wooden bench and grand wicker chair, which during Stroud’s popular Mardi Gras and Halloween parties doubles as a seating area for partygoers. It also is home to Stroud’s grandfather’s plantation desk.
Upstairs, the three bedrooms – or chambers, as they were – are a showcase for bedding from Stroud’s store Olivine. Layers and layers of linen drape and decorate each space.
Despite the bright, comfortable décor, Stroud said many a family member or friend has encountered a foreboding presence, especially in the middle of the night. “I have ghosts following me everywhere,” said Stroud. “They love me.”
Stroud said ghosts and Galveston go hand-in-hand. While it’s not a typical topic of conversation in Houston or The Woodlands, where she resides with her husband, surgeon Daniel Stroud, in Galveston, ghost stories are as common as seaweed on the beach.
Reports of dark figures chanting and pushing on Catherine Stroud, choking a family friend and clamoring up and down the stairs disturbing Stroud’s sister’s sleep led to a visit from an MTV psychic and TV crew to rid the home of its ghosts – by luring them into the trunk room to cross them over into the light through the window. Stroud, however, credits her long-time friend Sonya Fitzpatrick, the Animal Planet host of “The Pet Psychic” and “Pet Psychic Encounters,” with ridding the house of its harrowing hauntings after the show’s taping.
Not all of the ghosts were malevolent though, said Stroud, who often sensed the presence of two female spirits when she was picking out paint colors for the house, which has a barely gray exterior with white trim and blue and purple accents on a decorative wood border between the porch and balcony. “It’s kind of sad,” said Stroud. “I miss the women. They guided me.”
These days, sans benevolent, design-savvy Victorian ghosts, Stroud finds herself more in Galveston than in The Woodlands. Four years ago, Stroud said this idea wouldn’t even have occurred to her, were it not for having seen a post about historic Galveston houses on Joni Webb’s design blog, Cote de Texas.
Now, the shop owner looks forward to a day in the not-too-distant future when she and her husband can call Galveston and the storied Victorian their permanent home.
Dior opens its doors
A little piece of Paris has come to Sydney with the opening of Christian Dior’s first Australian flagship boutique.
BY GENEVRA LEEK
Guests could be forgiven for thinking they had wandered onto Avenue Montaigne yesterday as Christian Dior revealed a flagship boutique inspired by that very luxury strip in Paris, also known as the birthplace of the brand.
The highly anticipated launch occurred on the corner of Castlereagh and King Streets in the Sydney CBD, where the multi-level store draws on the codes of the house of Dior in an impressive design by architect Peter Marino.
Creative director Raf Simons’s latest designs are showcased against Monsieur Dior’s favourite shades of grey, with silk carpeting, mirrored French windows and Louis XVI medallion chairs creating an atmosphere more Parisian apartment than retail space.
Wrought-iron balustrades wind up from ground-floor leather goods and La Collection Privée fragrances to first floor ready-to-wear and a dedicated shoe salon, while metallic fabrics pressed behind glass line the walls of the fine jewellery and timepiece salon, borrowing from Dior’s couture legacy.
For those who prefer to shop by appointment, a lift illuminated with orchids transports valued customers up to an intimate private suite in the heavens, while a sleek subterranean space houses a dedicated Dior Homme boutique offering the complete men’s collection.
Dior officially opens today with two limited-edition pieces designed exclusively for the store: the iconic Lady Dior in a decidedly Dior shade of pink, and a duchesse satin dress strewn with roses. A little trip to Paris might be in order this weekend. J’adore.
Portland crossing to get shorter, beach road safer
By Randy Billings
The city is expected to do work along the Eastern Promenade this summer to make pedestrians safer. The plan includes narrowing and realigning Cutter Street in an effort to slow traffic heading to the beach and boat launch.
The project, which will go before the city’s Historic Preservation Board on Wednesday, includes a drastic reduction in pavement at the intersection of Cutter Street and Eastern Promenade road. The 100-foot-wide expanse would be narrowed to about 40 feet, and a pulloff area for tour buses would be created.
Bobinsky said the project, projected to cost $100,000 and expected to begin after July 4, will be in the Maine Department of Transportation’s request for bids to repave a section of the Eastern Prom from Morning Street to Washington Avenue.
Few major accidents have been reported at that intersection, but the potential is there, Bobinsky said.
The Friends of the Eastern Promenade is welcoming the proposed changes. President Diane Davison said the current configuration makes Cutter Street seem like an-off ramp that doesn’t require drivers to slow down. “The traffic just moves way too fast,” she said.
Safety concerns were raised in the 2004 Eastern Promenade Master Plan, which called the intersection confusing. “Cutter Street appears to be an extension of promenade drive, not a separate intersection,” it said.
The project also would reduce the width of Eastern Promenade road, from 52 feet to 38 feet, near the bend by Fort Allen Park. Pavement on the inland side of Eastern Promenade road would be replaced with grass and curbing.
Davison said commercial vehicles traveling from the Old Port to the East End boat launch, where they load supplies and equipment on barges, is the biggest safety concern.
“(The trucks) really fly right through that intersection,” Davison said. “Narrowing that intersection will make it safer for all park users.”
The crosswalk reduction from 100 feet to 40 feet shouldn’t cause problems for recreational boaters who use the East End boat launch, Bobinsky said.
The project is related to restoration work planned for this spring at Fort Allen Park, which includes replacing the rotting wooden cannon carriages, repairing a wrought iron fence, sprucing up a bandstand and improving pathways to better incorporate three war memorials.
Narrowing the Cutter Street intersection will add green space next to the Jacob Cousins War Memorial, a bronze plaque on a boulder commemorating the city’s first Jewish soldier killed in World War I.