Allis Hardenburg Miller Hutchings

Left: Allis Hardenburg Miller Hutchings. Right: Frank Miller and baby daughter, Allis.

The only child of Frank and Isabella Miller, as a young girl Allis accompanied them on many of their adventures. When President Harrison came to Riverside in 1891, she was the charming little girl who presented him with a basket of flowers.

Allis and De Witt V. Hutchings were married in 1909; their marriage was a quiet affair because of the death the previous year of Allis’ mother. The couple had three children—Frank Isabella Hutchings and Frank Miller Hutchings, named after her parents, and Helen.

After Frank Miller’s death in 1935, Allis and De Witt managed the hotel until their deaths in 1952 and 53. Allis became president of the company, now called Frank A. Miller Incorporated, and her husband became managing director of the Inn. With the build-up of military preparedness in 1938, business prospered.

Allis “acquired a number of aviation-oriented friends and an interest in flying. With this background, and with the expanded military aviation at March Field, she initiated the ceremonial aspects of the Inn’s “Famous Flyers” Wall. Flyers and others prominent in aviation, as they visited Riverside, often to go to March Field, were honored in individual ceremonies. More than 100 sets of wings were mounted and ceremonies held and Allis continued her father’s tradition of showmanship, using the occasions to draw attention to the Inn.

With the rise of the automobile and the new accessibility of farther flung travel destinations, the Mission Inn faced challenges. People no longer stayed at the hotel for extended periods; Palm Springs and other locations had replaced Riverside as a popular destination. The couple struggled to keep the hotel open and tried to attract new guests by adding modern amenities. The South Seas-inspired Lea Lea room, decorated with large tikis, bamboo, and palm fronds, opened in 1939. It became a favorite place for dancing, especially for the airmen and soldiers stationed at March Field and Camp Hahn. In 1948, a swimming pool, “El Agua Azul,” replaced the Old Adobe that was the original Miller home.

According to local historian Tom Patterson, “Mrs. Hutchings became an ever watchful supervisor of many aspects of the Inn, without title. In her earlier years she had been prim and fashionable, interested in art and in culture of the nations she visited. Now she sometimes complained that she had never intended to be a hotel keeper. She was omnipresent, usually wearing a house dress, little given to conversation.”

Mr. and Mrs. Hutchings died within four months of each other – Allis in 1952, DeWitt in 1953. Their three children sold the hotel in 1956 to Benjamin Swig of San Francisco, and the Miller family’s 80-year ownership came to a close.