tommy tomson pool

Explore Palm Springs: Tommy Towson

The pioneer of pool design left his mark in Greater Palm Springs at Shadow Mountain Club and the iconic piano-shaped pool for Frank Sinatra.

Tracy Conrad Current Digital, History

tommy tomson pool
Tommy Tomson designed the figure eight pool at the Shadow Mountain Club in Palm Desert.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PALM SPRINGS HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The idealized image of California as a land of leisure for the rich and beautiful was created in the 1930s for the movies with the help of people like “Tommy” Tomson. Tourists arriving at Union Station’s South Patio, or the pool of the Beverly Hills hotels or walking the grounds at Santa Anita were elevated into that glamorous world of leisure by Tomson’s landscapes.

Leisure in California is also defined by the image of the swimming pool.  Tomson designed some of the most luxurious resort pools of the entire southwest including the innovative figure eight-shaped pool at Shadow Mountain Club in Palm Desert, and the piano-shaped pool for Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms house in Palm Springs.

Indeed, Tommy Tomson created one of the first kidney-shaped pools featuring a palm tree-planted island for Palm Desert founder, Cliff Henderson himself, setting off the trend for midcentury houses ever after.

There is a multitude of ways to Explore Palm Springs, which turns 81 in 2019. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring Palm Springs history.

The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place that often corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical Society is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

Visit pshistoricalsociety.org for more information.

Looking for more historically based stories? Visit our History page for more.