Tom of Finland House
Good news! Los Angeles City Council designated the Tom of Finland House as an Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) on November 29, 2016. The property is one of a handful of places in Los Angeles to be designated for its associations with LGBTQ history.
Located in Echo Park, the Tom of Finland House was constructed in 1911 in the Craftsman style. From 1980 through 1991, the residence was the primary home and studio of internationally renowed erotic artist Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), also known as "Tom of Finland."
Over the course of his career, Laaksonen elevated homoerotic art as a form of high culture. His stylized drawings of gay men reflected the postwar evolution of gay male identity, self-image, and liberation movement. Although he earned an early status as a cult-like figure among gay men, he has gained broader popularity since his death.
Since 1984, the property has housed the Tom of Finland Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving Laaksonen's art and promoting contemporary gay artists and luminaries.
The City of Los Angeles previously identified the Tom of Finland House as a potential historic resource in its 2014 SurveyLA LGBT Historic Context Statement.
In 2016, the Foundation nominated the house for local historic designation for its associations with Laaksonen and the development of gay and erotic art in Los Angeles. The Cultural Heritage Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval on September 15, 2016.
The Conservancy believes that the Tom of Finland House is eligible for Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) designation because:
It is associated with the career of pioneering erotic artist Tom of Finland, who lived and worked in the house during the last decade of his life; and
It reflects the development of late twentieth century gay art and culture in Los Angeles, including the growing connection between art, civil rights, and identity.