Frequently Asked Questions
How do I visit the site?
Visitation is by reserved guided tour only.All visitors are taken to the site in a National Park Service shuttle.The tours are at 10 AM and 2:00 PM Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Self-guided tours are available on Saturdays at 10:15, 12:15, and 2:15. No reservations are needed for Saturday tours.The park is closed Mondays, Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.Call (925) 838-0249 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, and some would say, greatest 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.
What is Tao House?
Tao House is where O'Neill lived with his third wife Carlotta Monterey, between 1937 and 1944.It is where O'Neill wrote what he and most of his critics consider to be his best works.The O'Neill's worked with the architect and builder Frederick Confer to create it.It is a mix of Spanish and Chinese architecture;the interior is done mostly in an Asian style.It is approximately 5,100 square feet.
Why is Tao House important?
Eugene O'Neill lived at Tao House for 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.The isolation of the house, 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.'
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), 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 with a 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.
What's original in Tao House?
Most things are period pieces or reproductions. We have some originals but not many. Original pieces are the green mirror, temple lions, andirons, paintings in the guest room, a cabinet and O'Neill's desk and chair in his study.
The O'Neill's purchased most of their furniture at Gump's in San Francisco. Gump's had a policy at the time that said anything bought from there, that you no longer wanted, they would buy back. In 1944 most of the O'Neill's furniture was sold back to Gump's, then sold out to the public again.
Are the books his?
No they are period pieces. His originals are being stored at Long Island University. They have 1,000 of his original 8,000. Some are also at Yale University's Beinecke Library. Many books were given away before they were preserved. We have a partial list of books he had, and have tried to get the same titles he kept.
Did they have servants?
They had a cook and a chauffeur who lived in Tao House with them. Maids came weekly.
Why did they move here?
They moved to Danville for privacy and seclusion from fame. He also needed a place to continue writing but had to be close to doctors. His health was poor at this age.
How old was he when he lived here?
He and Carlotta his wife were both 49 when they moved into Tao House.
They were the same age, both born in 1888.
Did he have any children?
He had three children from his first two previous marriages;a boy from his first wife, Eugene O'Neill Jr., and a boy and a girl from his second wife, Shane and Oona. His Daughter Oona married Charlie Chaplin, and was disowned by Eugene because of the age difference between them. Carlotta also had a daughter, Cynthia, from her second marriage.
When did he die?
He died in 1953 at age 65. He died in a Boston hotel (Sheraton) from Pneumonia.
How large is the property?
Eugene O'Neill NHS is 13 acres. The O'Neill's purchased 158 acres in 1937.