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.
©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
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.
Learn more about these other national historic sites:
To learn more about national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:
- National Monuments: Learn more about America's national monuments.
- National Memorials: Discover national memorials in the U.S.
- National Historic Sites: Read about American national historic sites.
- San Francisco City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit San Francisco.
- California State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in California as well as other recreational activities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.