Tao House – Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site

Located in Danville, the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site features the Tao House, the former home of Nobel Prize winning playwright Eugene O’Neill. The Tao House is located at the end of a private street, which is inaccessible to the general public. To visit the Tao House, you must first call in for reservations. You will then be directed to an off-site parking lot to catch a shuttle bus to the house.

The Tao House features a fusion of Chinese and Spanish styles. The main gate displays the four Chinese characters 大道别墅 out-of-order, which roughly translates to the big path to the villa.

Once inside the main gate, you will notice a crooked pathway that leads to the house. The zigzag design was adopted to deter evil spirits who could only travel in straight paths. In the same motif, the front of the house also features false entrances to mislead the spirits.

The inside of the house also carries a lot of meaning with blue ceilings and brown flooring symbolizing the heavens and earth. Another interesting detail is the three colored mirrors. The green mirror is located by the front door, the blue mirror appears in the living room and the black mirror stands in bedroom of Eugene O’Neill.

While the Tao House does include some Chinese influences, it is definitely not a Chinese house and those seeking more insight into Chinese architecture or artwork would be better served visiting a local museum. Instead, the Tao House is a wonderful place to learn more about this Nobel Prize winning playwright and to enjoy a spectacular view of the surrounding San Ramon valley.

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