The historic Serra Cross atop Mount Rubidoux in Riverside is set to remain in perpetuity following the winning bid by a local non-profit alliance.
Totally Mt. Rubidoux (TMR) — an alliance comprising Friends of Mt. Rubidoux, Mission Inn Foundation and Riverside Land Conservancy — won the April 11th public auction held in front of Riverside City Hall for .43 acres of land underneath the Serra Cross atop Mount Rubidoux.
TMR and a Riverside aerospace components firm, Accuturn Corp., were the two registered bidders. TMR secured the winning bid at $10,500 following the minimum opening bid of $10,000 by Accurturn.
Representatives for Accuturn — a last-day registrant to the auction — said they had not heard about TMR but had also planned to preserve the cross. As such, a bit of pre-auction negotiating between the two bidders resulted in them essentially joining forces.
TMR’s plan is to preserve and maintain the cross in its historical context. From the 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.
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. 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.
We applaud TMR — and all its many and tireless volunteers — for their efforts in working to both protect and maintain this historic resource for Riverside. The group’s efforts now turn to building an endowment fund for maintaining the cross and the immediate property.
- Totally Mt. Rubidoux – Website | Facebook
- The Press-Enterprise: Auction winner will keep Riverside landmark (April 11)
- RaincrossSquare.com – Supporting ‘Totally Mt. Rubidoux’ (Feb 2013)
Sources: Totally Mt. Rubidoux, Riverside Press-Enterprise