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Visit O'Neill's Tao House

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O'Neill at Tao House

How to Visit Tao House


The Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Tao House was formed in 1974 for the purpose of acquiring Tao House in the hills of Danville, California and to eventually develop the site into a center for performing arts and study. O’Neill and his wife Carlotta built Tao House and lived there from 1937 to 1944. It was there that he wrote his last six plays, including “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” “The Iceman Cometh,” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Most  scholars of the theatre agree that O'Neill can be ranked, along with Shakespeare and Shaw, as one of the three greatest playwrights in the English-speaking world. O'Neill received four Pulitzer Prizes for his work and is still today the only American playwright to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The first phase of the Foundation's activities focused on securing funds to purchase the house.  Through several successful fundraising efforts (primarily benefit performances of Eugene O'Neill's play Hughie by Jason Robards and Jack Dodson in Berkeley and Los Angeles) the Foundation was able to put a down payment, secure title and gain access to the house.  A total of approximately $70,000 was raised through Hughie and productions and productions at Tao House by Hanover College and the Oregon Shakespearean Festival Association.

In 1975, Senator Alan Cranston and Representative George Miller introduced companion bills to the U.S. Congress calling for the establishment of the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site.  In May 1976 the bill passed the Senate but stalled in the House because the Department of Interior had no funds for acquisition of the house.  California State Assemblyman Daniel Boatwright introduced an urgency bill to the Assembly calling for the purchase of Tao House with Collier Park Preservation Funds.  State Senator John Nejedly introduced a companion bill in the Senate and AB 4539 was signed into law in September 1974.  Because of the state's action on October 19, 1976, SB 2398, calling for establishment of the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, was signed into law by President Gerald Ford.  The state appropriated $250,000 for the purchase, and Tao House was transferred to the federal government on June 12, 1980.

The National Park Service is now responsible for operation, maintenance, tours and public programs.  The Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Tao House is responsible for artistic and educational programs.  A "Memorandum of Understanding," which outlined the partnership (which reached a 20-year milestone in 2006) between the two organizations, was signed by the NPS and the Foundation in 1997.  Through the efforts of the Foundation, Tao House became a National Park.  Since the designation, the National Park Service has shown tremendous commitment to the project and has restored the home to its original state.

The mission of the Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Tao House, is to celebrate and promote the vision and legacy of Eugene O'Neill, America's foremost playwright.

To achieve its mission, the foundation collaborates with the National Park Service in restoring and preserving Tao House, providing for future generations a memorial that:

  • Perpetuates the vision of Eugene O'Neill

  • Provides artistic and educational programs which focus on Eugene O'Neill's contribution to theatre in America and the world;

  • Maintains a research library which collects, preserves and exhibits books, photos and artifacts related to Eugene O'Neill and the American theatre.

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