Isabella Miller

Left: The Isabella windows in the Music Room at the Mission Inn. Right: Isabella Hardenberg Miller.

Isabella (Bell) D. Hardenberg, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, arrived in Riverside in 1876 to teach school. A self-reliant 27-year-old, she traveled alone from Lone Rock, Wisconsin. Bell met Frank Augustus Miller, who was also from Wisconsin, at the Congregational Church.

By 1879, Frank owned a grocery store on Main Street called The Blue Front and soon after, in 1880, Frank purchased the Glenwood Hotel, later renamed the Mission Inn, from his father. After an intense courtship, Frank and Isabella were married on June 8, 1880. Their April 1881 honeymoon took them to New Mexico and Chicago where Frank handled business, then on to Wisconsin so Bell could introduce Frank to her mother and three of her sisters.

Their only child, Allis Hardenberg Miller, was born in the old adobe at the Glenwood on April 19, 1882, the following year. Frank’s business affairs were a constant in their lives, and though Isabella remained mostly in the background, she influenced Frank through her education and love of music and poetry. Frank networked constantly with prestigious and wealthy financiers and Isabella accompanied him to the 1893 World Exposition in Chicago, the Republican Convention in 1896, and to Washington, D.C., where they met President Theodore Roosevelt.

Isabella, Frank, and Allis traveled extensively, including Europe where they shopped for artifacts and furnishings for the Inn and encountered the architecture that ultimately influenced Frank’s masterwork—the transformation of the Glenwood into the Mission Inn. Isabella’s health began to decline, and she died of kidney failure on July 21, 1908 at the age of 53. Frank memorialized his beloved Bell in a stained-glass window, located in the Music Room at the Mission Inn. Isabella is depicted as Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, sitting at an organ.