ECHO PARK –Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland, became known worldwide for his homoerotic imagery that influenced gay culture. Echo Park served as the artist’s second home for many years. Laaksonen passed away nearly 25 years ago, but the Tom of Finland Foundation, which is located in a restored 1911 Echo Park home, has continued to promote his legacy. Now, that same property, called TOM’s House, has been nominated as a city historic landmark.
The Cultural Hertiage Comission is scheduled to vote today on whether or not to take the nomination, submitted by homeowner and Tom of Finland Foundation co-founder, Durk Dehner, under consideration.
Dehner purchased the three-story Craftsman-style home, which is now mostly hidden by a tall hedge, in the late 1970s and soon invited Laaksonen to visit. The application states:
“Noteworthy in itself as a Craftsman-style residence, the property at 1421 Laveta Terrace was where Tom lived and worked for the last decade of his life. During this productive period, a third floor space in the house served as Tom’s combined bedroom and studio. Though Tom would spend his summers in Finland – visa restrictions required that Tom return to his native country every six months – the house served as the strongest focal point for his work and legacy. Tom’s presence at the house helped to christen it TOM House’ in the gay and artistic community. The decade that Tom spent at TOM House was a standout period in his career;works produced at the home during this time were pivotal in turning him into an artist of international acclaim.”
Planning Department staff have recommended that the commission consider taking the home, which is the subject of a new Rizzoli coffee table book, under consideration.
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