Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Eugene ONeill National Historic Site


Overlooking the San Ramon Valley and distant Mount Diablo in California, Tao House was once home to Eugene O'Neill, one of America's greatest playwrights. Today, it is a national historic site dedicated to O'Neill's life and work. O'Neill was born in New York City in 1888 to actor parents who lived a vagabond life. O'Neill left his troubled home early and traveled the world. He lived for a time in a flophouse in Manhattan, drank heavily, and tried to commit suicide. At age 24, he went into a sanitorium to be treated for tuberculosis. While recovering, he began to write plays, and his life changed forever. Four years later, a group of amateur actors in Provincetown, Massachusetts, first staged one of his plays. Four years after that, he received the first of his four Pulitzer Prizes for the tragedy Beyond the Horizon.

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site
©National Park Service
Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site remains an open greenbelt area, so visitors
may see black tailed mule deer, bobcats, or wild turkeys roaming free.

O'Neill soon became known as America's most exciting playwright, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936. With the stipend, he and his wife Carlotta were able to build Tao House, which O'Neill called his "final harbor." Carlotta decorated the 28-room cinder block house with deep blue ceilings, red doors, black-stained floors, and Chinese furniture. Though the O'Neills often entertained friends and family, Carlotta kept visitors away when her husband was working. O'Neill wrote what are generally considered his finest works here, including The Iceman Cometh and Long Day's Journey into Night. A worsening tremor in his hands slowly robbed O'Neill of the ability to write, and he did not complete another play after 1943. He died in Boston ten years later.

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site Information

Address: Danville, CA
Telephone: 925/838-0249
Hours of Operation: The park is open year-round, Wed.- Sun., with guided tours at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Closed Mon.,Tues. Visits to the site are by reservation only.
Admission: Free

Learn more about these other national historic sites:

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site

Clara Barton National Historic Site

Fort Larned National Historic Site

Grant Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site

Adams National Historic Site

Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Hampton National Historic Site

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site

Edison National Historic Site

Fort Scott National Historic Site

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

Longfellow National Historic Site

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Fort Smith National Historic Site

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Boston African -American National Historic Site

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site

Saint-
Gaudens National Historic Site

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Ford's Theater National Historic Site

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Mary McLeod Bethune House National Historic Site

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Weir Farm National Historic Site

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Friendship Hill National Historic Site

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Mc Loughlin House National Historic Site

Sewall -Belmont House National Historic Site

Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Chicago Portage National Historic Site

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

Ninety Six National Historic Site

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

William Howard Taft National Historic Site

Christiansted National Historic Site

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Golden Spike National Historic Site

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site

Steamtown National Historic Site


To learn more about national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.