Historical Districts and Historical Homes in Riverside, CA

October 4th, 2023  / Author: Zachariah Peterson
Insights / Locations

You might not expect Riverside, CA to be filled with sites and landmarks of historic significance. With the modern, artsy vibe of current-day Riverside, you could be forgiven if you thought history was left by the wayside. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are many old districts and historical houses in Riverside, CA that are worth exploring.

After all, the art-focused Riverside of today had to originate from somewhere. And architecture is an art form in itself. Taken from that perspective, it’s no surprise that many Riverside properties are of both artistic and historical significance. So much so that even many residents of Riverside County haven’t toured the many notable houses.

The only issue is choosing which ones to visit if you are short on time. We have selected 3 districts and 3 historical homes in Riverside, CA that we believe you should visit, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue exploring on your own if the opportunity presents itself.

Historical Districts

Riverside has 9 designated historic districts. Pursuant to the Cultural Resources Ordinance of Riverside, a historic district is a geographically defined area containing cultural resources important to the city’s history. And that includes building and architecture. Here, we have selected 3 historic districts, but all 9 are worth visiting.

1. Mount Rubidoux

The Mount Rubidoux district was once home to the wealthy of Riverside – the financiers and bankers, but also those that made their money in the citrus industry. The houses were designed in the Norman Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Craftsman, and Tudor Revival styles. The building in the district started in 1903 and finished around 1935.

2. Seventh Street East Historic District

The Seventh Street East historic district has homes in the Victorian, Craftsman, Mission Revival, Classical Revival, and Spanish Revival styles. The original home of John North, the founder of Riverside, is located in this district. The Seventh Street East district still functions as one of the main hubs for the Riverside community.

3. The Mission Inn Historic District

Mission Inn district is the old core of downtown Riverside. Here, you will mostly find governmental and commercial buildings. Many buildings are in the Art Deco and Colonial Revival styles, but the Mission Revival style dominates. The Fox Theatre, County Courthouse, and First Congregational Church are located in the Mission Inn district. And so is the Mission Inn itself.

The Mission Inn

The Mission Inn is neither a historical home nor a district, but any text about historical sites in Riverside that doesn’t mention the Mission Inn is incomplete. Currently known as the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, it is the largest building built in the Mission Revival style in the entire US (other architectural styles were also integrated).

It is one of the 315 hotels on the list of Historic Hotels of America – the program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation that celebrates historical hotels that have maintained their authenticity and architectural integrity.

The Mission Inn started out as The Glenwood Cottage in 1876, a simple boarding house. In the early 1900s, tourism in Riverside started to boom and so the small boarding house expanded and was renamed to the Glenwood Mission in 1902. The hotel continued being expanded and added to up until 1935.

By the time it was finished, it incorporated a variety of styles, with the Mission Revival being dominant. The many additions have made an intricate and entrancing building of the Mission Inn. It contains castle towers, a five-story rotunda, minarets, catacombs, a medieval-style clock, and many, many more unique features.

The Mission Inn is truly one-of-a-kind, so it came as a huge shock when it was set for demolition in 1992. Luckily, it was saved and restored and now occupies an entire city block. If you are interested in historical houses in Riverside, CA or just history in general, the Mission Inn should be your first stop.

Historical Homes

Throw a rock in one of the nine historical districts of Riverside and you’ll hit a historical house. That’s why it wasn’t easy to choose only 3 historical houses in Riverside, CA to write about. However, our intent was only to give you a taste of what you could find in Riverside and let you explore the rest on your own. So here are the three homes we selected.

1. The Ames-Westbrook Home (4811 Brockton Ave, circa 1888)

The Ames-Westbrook home was built around 1888 in the Queen Ann style. It can be found at 4811 Brockton Ave. The house was built by Samuel A. Ames, originally from Boston, who came to Riverside in 1878 to work in the booming citrus industry. However, this historical home in Riverside, CA is better known for its latter owners – Mr. and Mrs. Westbrook.

The Westbrooks lived in the Ames-Westbrook house from 1919 to 1943. Mr. Westbrook was one of the founders of Franzen Brothers Hardware, a store selling hardware and china, which quickly became one of Riverside’s finest stores. The Ames-Westbrook house is a good representation of how the wealthy lived in the first half of the 20th century.

After the Westbrooks sold the house in 1943, it was converted into a rest home and a duplex, but again became a single-family home in 1971. The original home had stained glass windows, tiled fireplaces in the main rooms, oak floors, and oak, mahogany, redwood, and pine trim. The modern house still retains many of the original features.

2. The Peter J. Weber House (1510 University Ave, 1932 – 1938)

This house was designed by architect Peter J. Weber, the chief designer of the architectural firm G. Stanley Wilson, and was built from 1932 to 1938. Peter J. Weber was a prominent architect who also contributed to designing many other historical buildings in Riverside, including the famous Mission Inn’s International Rotunda.

The Weber House is located at 1510 University Ave and is recognized as a city landmark. It is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Weber House is representative of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles and has some international features; namely, it includes Moorish details, inspired by Weber’s travels abroad.

Much of the woodwork was carved by hand and the details are visible to this day. But what makes the Weber House truly stand out is the materials it was built out of and the ahead-of-its-time systems that were implemented. Recycled and reclaimed materials were used and the house even had a solar water heater made out of car windshields and reclaimed bricks.

3. Harbour House (3014 Pine Street, 1931)

This historic house was built in 1931 by architect Henry LA Jekel at 3014, Pine Street. The Harbour House was built in the Norman style and has a nautical theme. The wood ceiling was designed to resemble the underbelly of a ship and it even has a stained glass window shaped like a porthole.

The history of this house is only matched by the history of its builder, Henry LA Jekel. This architect was renowned for designing steel-skeleton skyscrapers in NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia, before moving to Riverside and adopting the California style. Jekel destroyed most of his drawings prior to his death and only a few remain in the Museum of Riverside.

Thinking of Moving to Riverside?

If you want to move to Riverside and experience the historical marvels every day, SleeveUp Homes can help. We will buy your old home as-is for the best price possible to help you finance a house in Riverside County. Contact us to request a no-obligation cash offer and start turning your dreams into reality.



If you want to sell fast and are worried about how long the traditional process takes, and the commission and fees involved, consider working with SleeveUp Homes.