The Paloheimo family is part of Finland’s cultural legacy. Mining counselor K.A. Paloheimo and his wife Kerttu Paloheimo settled to live in Kallio-Kuninkala in the early 20th century. They were active influencers within the artist community of Lake Tuusula, and in the economic and cultural life of the entire country. Their bonds were strengthened through four marriages: the oldest of five sons, Arvi, married with Eva, the oldest daughter of Jean Sibelius, while Veli married Esteri, the niece of J.V. Snellman. Meanwhile, Olli married Leena, the daughter of Eero Järnefelt, and Paavo married Anni, the daughter of Pekka Halonen.
The youngest brother, Yrjö A. Paloheimo, served as master of Kallio-Kuninkala after his father from 1935 until his death in 1986. Once he graduated with a degree in agriculture, he traveled to America in 1926. He visited Finland on a few occasions and settled permanently in the United States in 1933 to work at the Consulate-General of Finland in New York. In 1939–1940, he was Commissioner of the Finnish Department of the New York World’s Fair, among other duties.
After the Second World War, Yrjö Paloheimo was Field Secretary of the Help Finland organization. He married Leonora Curtin in 1946 and moved to Pasadena, California, where he served for several decades as the Honorary Vice-Consul of Finland and as president of the Finlandia Foundation.
Yrjö and Leonora Paloheimo devoted themselves to nurturing Finnish culture, Spanish-based migrant culture in the USA, and Native American traditions. Their home in Pasadena later became an art museum. Its courtyard garden was named the “Finlandia Gardens” and the sauna building the “Finnish Folk Art Museum”. In their farm in Santa Fé, New Mexico, they established a large village museum and a marketplace where the native people could sell their handmade crafts.
The Leonora and Yrjö Paloheimo Foundation was established in Finland in 1973, its purpose being to nurture the cultural heritage of old Tuusula, and to support cultural work between Finland and the United States.
In the summer of 1985, the already aged Yrjö Paloheimo met Ellen Urho, the rector of Sibelius Academy in Kallio-Kuninkala. Yrjö said he had reflected on the future of Kallio-Kuninkala and hoped its activity would somehow have to do with music, especially with Sibelius. Rector Ellen Urho suggested renovating the buildings into a Musical Centre for the use of Sibelius Academy. Yrjö was delighted with the idea, and the plans of their cooperation were put into motion.
The complete renovation of the premises began in early August of 1986. The large-scale renovation plan, honoring the original era of the buildings, was created by a descendant of Yrjö’s brother Arvi and his wife Eva, interior designer Outi Lepäntalo. Kallio-Kuninkala began its operations as the Musical Centre of Sibelius Academy on 1.8.1987, roughly a year after the passing of Yrjö Paloheimo. The estate has functioned as the Järvenpää Unit of Uniarts Helsinki since 2013.
Pictures: The Paloheimo family’s photo collection, and the Pasadena Museum of History.