Results tagged “books” from Raincross Square

Hurkey Creek, Crestmore Manor, Lake Skinner, Idyllwild Park, Box Springs Mountain and Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve -- six of the 20 varied parks, museums, recreational and nature centers of Riverside County covered in a new book by local historian Steve Lech.

The 150-page, hardcover book -- "More Than a Place to Pitch a Tent" -- tells the stories behind Riverside County's major regional parks, with background information on how they came to be and how they were named. Numerous color and B&W photos from the past and present help illustrate the histories. Steve also delves into the insights and backgrounds for the six directors of the county's Parks Department following its creation in 1960 (it was previously administered as part of the county's Road Department).

In the book are several Riverside-area parks, including Box Springs Mountain Preserve, Hidden Valley Wildlife & Nature Center and Martha McLean - Anza Narrows Park. Steve points out that all three had been threatened by development pressures before becoming incorporated into the county's parks system.

Of particular interest to us is the background of Hidden Valley. The park, which straddles the Santa Ana River in northwestern Riverside near Norco, had been an upscale gun/hunt club from about 1957 until the early 1970s. Members included Clark Gable, Ernie Kovacs, Roy Rogers, Lawrence Welk, Les Richter and Jimmy Doolittle. Today, the old clubhouse serves as the park's nature center.

We also found intriguing the stories behind Lake Skinner near Temecula, Bogart Park in Beaumont, Lawler Lodge near Idyllwild and Crestmore Manor in Jurupa Valley. Crestmore, with its stately home,* was built for Los Angeles restauranteur and thoroughbred horse breeder Tiny Naylor (yes, of Googie coffee shop** fame). Unknown to us prior to reading the book was that noted Riverside architect Herman O. Ruhnau (Riverside City Hall) was the designer of Crestmore.

Steve is the president of the Riverside Historical Society and author of several local history books, including "Riverside: 1870-1940" and "Riverside in Vintage Postcards," both from Arcadia Publishing. Most impressive is "Along the Old Roads," Steve's in-depth book on early Riverside County history and the factors behind its formation. The book is a must-have reference for local historians.

Most of Steve's books can be found at local museums and some bookstores. You can also visit his history blog for contact info on purchasing the books.



* Courtesy of Riverside County Regional Park and Open Space District
** Courtesy of Yesteryear Remembered

Sources: "More Than a Place to Pitch a Tent" (Steve Lech)

Bookshelf: Riverside's Invisible Past


Riverside's Invisible Past
(Riverside Museum Press)

The latest book documenting Riverside's history has just hit the bookshelves. Written by fourth-generation resident of Riverside Joan H. Hall, "Riverside's Invisible Past" is the latest in several local history books by Joan, many of which are must-haves.

The 192-page book is chock full of interesting and informative histories surrounding 52 structures and sites from Riverside's past. Among the topics are long-gone historic homes, Riverside's Chinatown, the plunge and zoo at Fairmount Park, the classic Southern Sierras/California Electric headquarters and a demolished Spanish-Mission style mortuary designed by noted architect Robert L. Spurgeon.

Each narrative is illustrated with one or more photos, providing visual texture to the histories. The majority of the images come from the archives of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum and that of the author herself, including several old advertisements. Also in the book are a number of photos from the rich -- and not often seen -- Special Collections at UC Riverside.

One interesting tidbit found at the back of Joan's book was an unexpected discovery involving a church bell from Riverside's First Methodist Church. After changing owners and locations at least two times between 1882 and 1906, Joan says the "wayward bell" was eventually "ignored and forgotten" atop a now demolished downtown fire station. Forgotten, that is, until 100 years later when the bell was re-discovered atop Mount Rubidoux by Glenn Wenzel (author of "Anecdotes on Mount Rubidoux and Frank A. Miller, Her Promoter"). As Joan put it, serendipity indeed.

Joan has long been involved with local history, serving on the board of several local organizations, including the Riverside Museum Associates, which produced the book via its Riverside Museum Press. She will be signing copies of "Riverside's Invisible Past" at several locations in the month of December. So be sure to catch up with her at any one of the following dates:

  • Riverside Metropolitan Museum: Dec. 5 & 19 -- Noon to 4 p.m.
  • Barnes & Noble, Riverside: Dec. 11 -- 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Heritage House, Riverside: Dec. 12 -- Noon to 4 p.m.
  • Mission Inn Gift Shop: Dec 18 -- 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.



Anne Rice and the Mission Inn

Angel Time
Random House

Mission Inn
West facade

Mission Inn
Main lobby

Mission Inn
Interior courtyard architecture

Mission Inn
International Rotunda

With a hotel as unique and eclectic as the Mission Inn, it's no wonder many actors, artists and writers have found the place invigorating and inspiring. Among them include Will Rogers, Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Zona Gale and Carrie Jacobs Bonds. On Saturday, yet another name was added to the list: best-selling author Anne Rice.

Best known for her Vampire Chronicles books, which includes "Interview with the Vampire," Rice used the Mission Inn as a backdrop for her latest book, "Angel Time." The book is the first in a new series entitled, "Songs of the Seraphim." (Book two, which is yet to be published, is also set at the Mission Inn.)

Rice, who hails from New Orleans but now resides in nearby Rancho Mirage (Palm Springs), first visited the Mission Inn shortly after moving to Southern California in 2006. It was on her first visit to the Inn in which the author says she "fell in love" with the hotel and decided to use it as a setting for her upcoming series.

As part of the book's recent release, Rice returned to the Mission Inn on Saturday to sign copies of the new book. While there, the Inn's Amistad Suite (aka the "Bridal Suite") -- a key location in both the book's writing and its setting -- was dedicated to Rice, who now shares the distinction with author Anne Cameron. (Btw, the Amistad Suite was also actor Paul Newman's favorite room while staying at the Mission Inn whenever he raced or visited the now-gone Riverside International Raceway.)

On the Mission Inn as inspiration, Rice had this to say:

"I just fell in love with the place and I stayed in the Amistad Suite, which they've renamed the Anne Rice suite. So this became a big part of the book for me. And I think loving New Orleans as I do, it was natural for me to fall in love with this place. It has history, it's charming and excessive and all that."
The Press-Enterprise

Which reminds us of similar sentiments written by Will Rogers after staying at the Mission Inn for several days in 1934:

"It is the most unique hotel in America. It's a monastery, a museum, a fine hotel, a home, a boardinghouse, a mission, an art gallery and an aviator's shrine. It combines the best features of all of the above. If you are ever in any part of California, don't miss this famous Mission Inn in Riverside."


A look at local history books

A Colony for California
Riverside Museum Press

Riverside 1870-1940
Arcadia Publishing

Riverside in
Vintage Postcards

Arcadia Publishing

Riverside - Then & Now
Arcadia Publishing

Recently, local historian Hal Durian's weekly "Riverside Recollections" column spotlighted several local history books, including the very popular photo history books from Arcadia Publishing.

The Arcadia series includes several topics, including Images of America, Postcard History Series, Then & Now, Black America Series, Images of Sports, and Campus History Series.

Locally, several communities have been profiled in the Arcadia series, including: Riverside, Corona, Norco, Jurupa, Rubidoux, Moreno Valley, Hemet, San Jacinto, Menifee, Murrieta, Temecula, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, Redlands, Loma Linda, Montclair, Fontana, Rialto, Colton, Crestline, Lake Arrowhead, and Big Bear.

Several cities, such as Riverside, even have multiple books: Riverside 1870-1940, Riverside in Vintage Postcards, Riverside - Then & Now, Riverside's Mission Inn, Riverside's Camp Anza & Arlanza, and Arlington.

There are also a number of single-topic books: Norconian Resort, March Air Force Base, Kaiser Steel, Fontana, The Harris' Company, Lake Mathews & Gavilan Hills, and Temecula Wine Country, and Route 66 in California.

Beyond the Arcadia books, which offer mostly a cursory review of local history in a quick, easy-to-digest visual format, there are several other local history books of Riverside to take note of.

In particular, local author Joan H. Hall has done great work documenting several aspects of Riverside. Her "Adobes, Bungalows and Mansions of Riverside, California - Revisited" (with co-author Esther H. Klotz) and "Cottages, Colonials and Community Places of Riverside California" are two of the best such works, offering insight on many of Riverside's homes, buildings and sites.

Hall has also wrote (and/or co-authored) several other important local histories, including "A Citrus Legacy," "Through the Doors of the Mission Inn," "Pursuing Eden," and "History of Citrus in the Riverside Area."

Along with Hall's many books, two other books are worth noting for their more in-depth look at local history: Steve Lech's, "Along the Old Roads -- A History of the Portion of Southern California that Became Riverside County, 1772-1893," which gives background information for communities of Riverside County; and the late Tom Patterson's, "A Colony for California," which is a loose collection of both factual and anecdotal accounts of Riverside's first one hundred years (1870-1970).

Most of these books are found at area museums and many local shops, plus Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. They can also be found on (click here for direct links to each book). And of course, the Arcadia books can also be found at Arcadia Publishing.

Long-time Riverside photographer, Michael J. Elderman, has spent nearly 3 years photographing the restoration of downtown Riverside's Fox Theater as it transforms into the 1,600 seat Fox Performing Arts Center.

Riverside's Fox Theater:
An Intimate Portrait

Michael J. Elderman

Hired by the restoration's project manager to visually capture the massive renovation of the Fox, Elderman soon realized he had the makings for a book. As such, he began planning "Riverside's Fox Theater: An Intimate Portrait," a new, self-published book of his that is expected to become available in mid-December (just in time for January's debut of the new Fox).

On Monday night, Nov. 9th, a photographic exhibit based upon the book will open at La Sierra University with a reception at the university's Brandstater Gallery beginning at 6 p.m. In addition to Elderman's exhibit, the reception will include related discussions and presentations.

Admission to both the reception and exhibit, which runs through December 10th, is free. The university is located at 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, about a mile north of the 91 Freeway in southwestern Riverside.

In mid-December, Elderman's exhibit will shift to the Riverside Art Museum in downtown Riverside, where Elderman plans to offer the Fox book for sale during a special book signing event.

The nearly $30 million renovation of the Fox Theater is part of the city's $1.68 billion "Riverside Renaissance" plan, which includes everything from railroad grade separations and general city infrastructure (roads, sewers, etc.) to new/refurbished parks and cultural amenities.




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