Tao House

Also known as: Eugene O'Neill House
1.5 mi. W of Danville, Danville, California


Eugene O'Neill House


Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress



House of playwright Eugene O'Neill until 1944. O'Neill played a central role in elevating the importance of theater as an artistic expression. Some of O'Neill's best work was written at this house. The Chinese motifs of the house were designed to convey O'Neill's concept of a serene Oriental existence. / Eugene O'Neill is held by many critics to be the central figure in the coming of age of American drama. O'Neill alone, among that generation of writers which included Hemingway and Lewis, succeeded in making of the American stage a vehicle of mature artistic expression. His was the achievement which ultimately proved the outstanding contribution toward a new dimension of realism and the attainment of great tragedy within the American theater, As one writer has observed: "Before O'Neill, the U.S. had theater; after O'Neill it had drama." During his peripatetic career, O'Neill inhabited a succession of houses. Tao house, however, has singular importance. Here the playwright did his final and some of his best work; and the seven years passed in this place constituted perhaps the longest period of relative happiness that O'Neill's stormy life knew. The house is an example of Spanish Colonial style. At Tao House, O'Neill wrote The Iceman Cometh (1939), A Moon for the Misbegotten (1943), and completed several plays -- including A Touch of the Poet and More Stately Mansions -- through which he hoped to portray the saga of an American family. Finally, O'Neill here wrote the autobiographical masterpiece, Long Days Journey Into Night -- "a tale of old sorrow, written in tears and blood," and possibly his greatest work. -- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS CA-2078)

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 6, 1971
Reference number
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Pseudo-Chinese
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
B - Person
Property type
Historic functions
Single dwelling; Secondary structure
Current functions
Single dwelling; Secondary structure
Period of significance
Significant years
1937; 1944
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 2
Contributing structures: 1