Biography of Frank A. Miller
Riverside County, CA Biographies





FRANK AUGUSTUS MILLER
It was the hope of the pioneers to make here an ideal community, where all that Nature and intelligent human effort could contribute should unite to draw together the cultured and refined. Many there are who have contributed by their services or their wealth to aid in the furthering of this purpose. Some were idealists, and some have been practical business men who realized that dreams alone could never bring about the end desired. The subject of this sketch seems to have possessed a combination of these qualities, and behind these an indomitable will and a capacity for winning the aid of others in pushing to success undertakings which to those not largely influenced by sentiment seemed almost chimerical. The success which has attended the many undertakings with which Mr. Miller has been identified was not due to himself alone. Indeed, in behalf of many of these he had, especially at the outset, little money of his own to contribute, and without the generous aid of others failure would have resulted, and he therefore shares with many other public spirited citizens the credit for the splendid results obtained. And yet without his absolute faith in the future of the valley and the value of the various plans he advocated to further its advancement, and the possession of a never failing "nerve" to push forward his progressive plans, he never could have inspired others with the courage to risk their capital in undertakings that to the timid promised only failure. It is true that many of the projects his brain was so fertile in suggesting involved either directly or indirectly a probable benefi to himself, but there was not one of these that did not also bring a very certain benefit to every other citizen. To further the ends he sought he became active in political matters, and thereby often invited criticism; but a study of the larger projects he undertook in behalf of Riverside will show that it was through his political affiliations alone that some of the best things were secured for Riverside. The first of these was the victory in the fight for county division, where the political influence he secured was the factor which gave ultimate success, and made Riverside the county seat of a splendid county. The same influence was powerful in securing the location in this city of the fine govern: meat Indian school - the Sherman Institute - with the expenditure of large government funds here, the beautifying of the Arlington section and a large increase in the city's population. So it was in obtaining the large appropriation for the government building now in process of erection on Orange street. Riverside citizens must in simple justice admit that political influences have been excellently used to her advantage.

But there are other accomplishments to his credit. When the original street car system to Arlington had proven a failure it was he who undertook the reorganization of the company, to make it an electric line, with Chemawa Park as an adjunct. Finding the load too heavy for him to carry and the line unproductive, he prevailed upon H. E. Huntington to assume the debt of over $50,000 and take the property. As a result Riverside has now a local electric trolley system superior to that of any city of her size in the state, and one which is a part of the great Pacific Electric system of Southern California and shortly to connect her with Los Angeles and all the other cities of this section of the state.

It was Mr. Miller who took the initiative and secured the financial help required to build our two first business blocks, the Loring Opera House and the Rubidoux, and later devised the scheme and secured the assistance of H. E. Huntington and several of our own citizens in transforming Mount Rubidoux and its vicinity into Huntington Park, with its wonderful drive to where at the summit stands a cross in honor of Father Serra, and where the beauty of the entire valley is shown from a single standpoint.

He is today deeply interested in having completed the group of fine buildings which shall give the city a civic center of exceptional beauty, and to this end is aiding in the construction of what he likes to characterize as the "Riverside Church," to be built on the corner of Seventh and Lemon streets, and which he hopes shall be conspicuous both for its architectural beauty and for the work its occupants shall be able to accomplish for the public good.

But the crowning work of his life is the Glenwood Mission Inn, the central attraction which Riverside offers the tourist. In this undertaking he first sought and obtained the liberal financial aid of his fellow citizens and of outside capitalists whom he had convinced of the practicability of the undertaking. In this undertaking, too, H. E. Huntington evidenced his friendship by generous backing; and such men as Dr. David Starr Jordan gave their advice and support. Dr. Jordan says of the Glenwood Mission Inn, "It has been left for you, Frank Miller, a genuine Californian, to dream of the hotel that ought to be, to turn your ideal into plaster and stone, and to give us in mountain belted Riverside the one hotel which a Californian can recognize as his own." Into it he put the unique features which he believed would enable him to secure patronage which would never be given a conventional hotel located in a small city. In the forming of the plans so splendidly carried out he always had the loyal backing of his family as a whole, but the perfection of the plan in its details was made possible only by the aid of a gifted wife, whose good sense, thorough scholarship and love of the artistic furnished the particular influence needed to create the homelike resort which Baedeker stars as among the best in the world. He has here shown, with the help of his capable sister, Mrs. Alice Richardson, who has the management, what is a conviction with him, that people are governed largely by sentiment, and that a community which manifests its love for the beautiful by a systematic utilization of its natural advantages and a unity of action in regard to architecture, street and park making, etc., is sure to create an atmosphere peculiar to itself and attract to its citizenship the intelligent and moral. In other words, a city which Aristotle defines as "a place where men live a common life for a noble end" It is a credit to Riverside that Mr Miller has won for himself a place in Who Is Who.

Mr. Miller is the son of Capt. Christopher C. and Mary (Clark) Miller He was born at Tomah, Wis., June 30, 1859, and passed his early years amid the forests of that state, many of his playmates in childhood being the Indian children of the neighborhood. Of course only a few years of public school life were possible, but his mother was a well educated woman and gave her children instruction in their home. At fifteen the growing boy was strengthened physically by being permitted to accompany his father on surveying expeditions into the wilderness. He came to Riverside with the family, in 1873, his father having been employed in making surveys during the previous year. Frank was compelled to work at any honorable labor to assist the family, and had a varied experience in herding sheep, driving mules, budding trees, clerking and acting as zanjero.

His father was induced to accept the block of land where the Glenwood now stands in payment of a bill of $275 for surveying, and when it was decided to build the original little adobe hotel, now the tea room of the great Mission Inn, he undertook, with an Indian as a helper, to make the adobe bricks of which it was to be constructed, working bare footed in the wet clay. His first business venture was the purchase of a grocery store, which he ran successfully under the name of the "Blue Front."

In 1880 he was married to Miss Isabella Demarest Hardenburg, who was one of the first school principals of Riverside. She died in July, 1908, leaving one daughter, Allis Hardenburg Miller, who is now the wife of Dewitt V. Hutchings. Mr. Miller was again married on the 8th of December, 1911, to Miss Marian C. Clark of Riverside.

E. W. H.


From:
History of Riverside County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by Elmer Wallace Holmes
And other well known writers
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1912


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