Eden editor Steven Keylon will give a presentation on the prolific landscape architect Tommy Tomson, also known as the “landscape architect to the stars." Born with the name Golden Sands in Zanesville, Ohio, Tomson arrived in Hollywood in the 1920s. There, he was noticed for his handsome looks and was invited for a screen test and studio contract. Instead, he chose a completely different career path, converting into a self-taught landscape architect.
Keylon takes us on a tour of the highlights of Tomson's long career, from the stately estates for 1930s and 40s film stars, his forty years at Santa Anita, and other iconic prewar work including the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, and Union Station. After the war, Tomson turned his focus from residential work to large-scale projects. In 1946, he designed the master-planned community of Palm Desert. This was followed by designs including factories, hospitals, and resorts, including the high desert community of Apple Valley.
The photo shows film star Joan Bennett strolling through the Tomson-designed garden of her Wallace Neff estate in Holmby Hills. Photo courtesy Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives
About our Speaker
Steven Keylon, the editor of the CGLHS journal Eden, is a landscape historian who lives in Palm Springs, California, and writes and lectures about Southern California's landscapes. Steven is the author of The Modern Architecture of Hugh Michael Kaptur and The Design of Herbert W. Burns and articles on the landscape work of Fred Barlow Jr., Tommy Tomson, and Katherine Bashford. He has also contributed to many Cultural Landscape Reports and Historic Context Statements for significant landscapes.