Former Head of Finnish Consulate Dies : History Buff’s Home Became Pasadena Historical Society Offices

Y. A. Paloheimo, the one-time Finnish consul-general whose palatial home and office on Orange Grove Avenue has since become headquarters for the Pasadena Historical Society, is dead.

He was 86 and died Friday in Santa Fe, N.M., where he and his wife had lived since 1965 when Finland moved its consulate to San Francisco from the Los Angeles area.

In New Mexico he pursued his interests in things historic and operated the Old Cienega Village Museum, which has been featured in National Geographic and other magazines.


Paloheimo (pronounced Pal-a-haamo) moved into the Pasadena home--built by the heirs of a Hungarian nobleman--after his wife inherited it. He used it as a consulate and residence, adding to it what was then probably the only authentic Finnish sauna in the Western United States, complete with eucalyptus twigs to enhance the air, a lava platform, a giant rock-covered stove and a masseur.

That 7-by-9-foot room now is a mini-museum devoted to Finnish history.

In 1953 Paloheimo founded the Finlandia Foundation to help improve cultural ties between the United States and his country. The foundation will hold a memorial service for him at the home he eventually donated to the historical society at 1 p.m. on June 22.

In addition to his wife, the former Leonora Curtin, he is survived by the four Finnish orphans they adopted soon after their 1946 marriage.