The historic structure which houses the Riverside Art Museum was built by the renowned architect Julia Morgan as Riverside’s original YWCA.
The Riverside YWCA was organized in 1906, but it was not until 1929, after years of developing membership, financial security, and considering three different sites that a location for Riverside’s first YWCA building was chosen. Selecting the corner of 7th (now Mission Inn Avenue) and Lime Streets, the directors of YWCA hired Morgan to draw formal plans for their new building. Pressure mounted from local business leaders, including Mission Inn owner Frank Miller. Miller’s preference was to hire an architect who would design in a similar style to that of the Mission Inn and Riverside’s Municipal Auditorium, both buildings in close proximity to the new YWCA site. However, the YWCA Directors held firm in their determination to have a place for women designed by a woman, and Morgan was ultimately hired. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on January 27, 1929. The building, based on Mediterranean and Classical architectural design elements, mingles beautifully, even now, with the Mission Revival and Spanish Revival styles of the Mission Inn and Municipal Auditorium.