• Eugene O'Neill at Tao House

    Eugene O'Neill

    National Historic Site California

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I visit the site?

Due to the location of the park, all visitors are transported to the site on a National Park Service shuttle. The park is open Friday through Sunday. Guided tours are offered on Fridays and Sundays at either 10:00 am or 2:00 pm by advance reservation only. Self-guided tours are offered on "Saturdays Without Reservations" with shuttle pick ups at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm or 2:00 pm. All shuttles depart from the Museum of the San Ramon Valley in downtown Danville.

The park is closed Monday - Thursday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Call (925) 838-0249 ext. 6320 to make a reservation.

Is there a fee for the tour or the shuttle?

No. Both the tour and shuttle are free.

Who is Eugene O’Neill?

Eugene O’Neill is one of America’s most prominent playwrights. He won four Pulitzer Prizes and the Nobel Prize for Literature for his playwriting. He is often thought of as the father of modern American drama for the new, uniquely American style of tragedy he created. Eugene wrote what he considered, and what many critics consider, his best works at Tao House.

What is Tao House?

Tao House is where O’Neill lived, with his third wife Carlotta Monterey, between 1937 and 1944. The O’Neills worked with the architect and builder to create it. It is a mix of Spanish and Chinese architecture; the interior is done mostly in an Oriental style. It is approximately 5,100 square feet.

Why is Tao House important?

The isolation of Tao House, both physical and psychological, allowed O’Neill to write what he and most critics think are his best works. O’Neill called Tao House ‘…my final home and harbor.’ Eugene O’Neill lived at Tao House for about six years – the longest period of time he lived in any single residence. He had lived in over 35 different places by the time he moved into Tao House, at age 49.

What did O’Neill write at Tao House?

O’Neill wrote some of his most famous works at Tao House, including The Iceman Cometh (1939), Hughie (1941), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1941), and A Moon for the Misbegotten (1943). He also wrote two works of an 11 play cycle: A Touch of the Poet (1939) and More Stately Mansions (1939).

If Tao House was so important to O’Neill, why did he leave?

O’Neill was stricken with a tremor that caused immense troubles in writing. O’Neill only wrote his plays longhand in pencil – no other method worked for him. He could not write plays after 1943. The pressures of World War II, including blackouts, rationings, and a lack of income from play production, also greatly influenced their decision to leave. He died in 1953 at age 65 in Boston.

Did You Know?

Greta Garbo in the 1930 MGM film based on O'Neill's play

Greta Garbo made her talking picture debut in the 1930 MGM version of O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize winning play “Anna Christie.”