Monday, June 15, 2015

Greater East Bay: Danville, Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site


Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site  (925) 838-0249.  15 Tours:  Guided, Wed-F & Sun at 10am & 2pm; reservations required.  Self-Guided at 10:15, 12:15, & 2:15; no reservations required.  Free.  No pets in house.  Performances:  (925) 820-1818; www.eugeneoneill.org.


Reached by a free 15-minute shuttle ride uphill through a gated residentail neighborhood, Tao House is the rural retreat where Eugene O’Neill wrote his last plays--The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten.  Built in 1937 by O’Neill and his wife Carlotta, the Spanish rancho-style house reflects their eccentricities with dark blue ceilings meant to mimic the sky and built-in bookcases to hold the writer’s massive collection.  Though the house is not fully furnished and holds few original pieces, it is slowly being re-furnished with pieces from the era.


Fruit and nut tree orchards surround the spacious rural property.  Thanks to careful restoration, the house and its garden look almost as they did when the O’Neills left in 1944 after a 6-year stay—O’Neill’s longest stay in one place.  Tours run about 2-1/2 hours.  Because the tour is slow-moving and enhanced generously with lectures, it is not recommended for children under 5.  A tiny gift shop sells books as well as audio and video tapes of O’Neill’s productions.  Twice each year O’Neill’s plays are staged in the old barn, suspected to be the inspiration for the setting of A Moon for the Misbegotten.  


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historic images courtesy of Eugene O' Neill Foundation, Tao House


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