As most residents of Riverside (and the region) are well aware, a controversy developed late last year over the Serra Cross atop Mount Rubidoux.
Last August, Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter questioning the constitutionality of the cross on account it was a religious symbol on public land. (Mount Rubidoux was deeded to the city for use as a park in 1955 by the heirs of Mission Inn builder Frank Miller.) Although no lawsuit had been filed, the assertion was that such would be likely if the city did not remove the cross or sell the land to a private owner (thereby creating the ‘separation of church and state’).
After private legal consultations and public meetings, the city decided in January that the best option for preserving the cross was to sell .43 acres on which the cross stands to a private buyer. The public auction has been set for April 11 with the minimum bid starting at $10,000. Although the city cannot require the new owner to keep the cross, it has included deed restrictions requiring that the land be kept as publicly accessible open space.
Without taking a position on its religious merits or whether the “sell” option is the best option, we believe the cross should be retained for historical purposes (it has been a atop Mount Rubidoux since 1907). As such, we fully support the efforts of ‘Totally Mt. Rubidoux,’ a coalition of three nonprofit community organizations — Friends of Mt. Rubidoux, Mission Inn Foundation and Riverside Land Conservancy) — whose goal is to purchase the site and preserve (and maintain) the cross.
From the Totally Mt. Rubidoux (TMR) website:
A collaborative effort by Friends of Mt. Rubidoux, Mission Inn Foundation & Museum, and the Riverside Land Conservancy to ensure that the peak of Mt. Rubidoux property is substantially preserved in its current state, reasonably maintained, and kept accessible to members of the public for their enjoyment.
Be sure to check out the TMR website to add your name as a supporter as well as for updated information on ways you can help support their efforts at preserving a unique piece of Riverside and Southern California history. More importantly, we hope you will also consider making a donation to help ensure TMR’s success at the public auction. (Every donation, no matter how small, helps!)
- Totally Mt. Rubidoux
- Totally Mt. Rubidoux – Facebook
- Friends of Mt. Rubidoux
- Mission Inn Foundation
- Riverside Land Conservancy
- City of Riverside – Mt. Rubidoux auction info
- Riverside Historical Society
- Old Riverside Foundation
- Riverside Press-Enterprise – Auction date set for Mount Rubidoux cross land (Feb. 14)
Banner image courtesy of Totally Mt. Rubidoux
Sources: Totally Mt. Rubidoux, Riverside Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside