In 1936, Eugene O'Neill won the Nobel Prize for Literature and used the prize money to build over Danville what he called the Tao House. From 1937 until 1944, O'Neill and his wife lived in the home. O'Neill had already lived in over 35 places by the time he moved here, but he called this secluded house his "final home and harbor." O'Neill wrote his final plays: The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Hughie, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. He was unable to complete another play after 1943 because of a degenerative condition in his wrist.
O'Neill and his wife, actress Carlotta Monterey, showed interest in Asian art, decoration, and home-preparation thinking. The two designed the two-story, triple-bedroom home from the ground up. The ceilings were dark blue to mimic the sky throughout the interior with dark wood floors representing the earth, as well as Noh masks, Chinese guardian statues and Chinese lacquerware furnishings. Outside, Carlotta built a zigzag-like garden that Chinese custom said would keep bad spirits away. Several trees were also planted, including pine, almond, and redwood. Following World War II the O'Neills moved to Boston.
During the early 1970s the house was saved from demolition. Several women, including President Darlene Blair and Executive Vice President Lois Sizoo, formed the Eugene O'Neill Foundation to raise money to buy Tao House which was named a National Landmark in 1971. They did so through many fundraising ventures, including the benefit production of the play Hughie by Eugene O'Neill featuring Jason Robards. Through their efforts, Tao House was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971, a National Historic Site in 1976, and became National Park Service Management in 1980. The Foundation has produced an annual festival of O'Neill's works since 1999, including performances on site.
Visiting the house
The National Park Service does not publish the property's address but it is widely known that it is located near Danville's Kuss Road. A locked gate prevents vehicles from reaching the site that are not authorised. The Site occupies 13 acres (5.3 ha) which can only be accessed by private road by car, so advance bookings are required to visit. Private vehicles are unacceptable. Transportation to the site is provided on Wednesdays to Sundays by a twice-daily free shuttle from Danville at 10 am and noon, and also on Saturdays at 2 pm. Bookings are required except on Saturdays when self-guided tours are made.
Las Trampas Regional Wilderness trails also lead to the site. Bookings are also recommended for those arriving on horseback or on foot for a tour.
This amazing landmark in Danville, California is located near some other must-see places of interest:
- Mount Diablo State Park
- Eugene O'Neill Natl Historic Site
- Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space Preserve
- Museum of the San Ramon Valley
- Sycamore Valley Park
- Hap Magee Ranch Park
- Osage Station Park
- Iron Horse Regional Trail
All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location at 1261 Locust Street in Walnut Creek California! Stop by for a visit anytime!