The Dark Beauty of the Amargosa Opera House: Part I


We visited the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley, California on a warm spring day. The sky was blue with the occasional cloud dotted here and there. The sun was warm on our faces as we toured the grounds outside. The drive to Death Valley had been a barren one. Nothing but desert on either side of the road for miles. Thoughts of being lured to this place never to return home, lingered in the back of my mind as we drove. As we passed the Shoshone Village, a little oasis in a broad sea of sand and cacti, I started to have hope for the little place we would visit – Death Valley Junction. Shoshone had water and grass and a cute little general store. I thought that surely the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel would be just as quaint if not more adorably adorned.

Pulling into the dusty dirt parking lot, I realized my hopes were set too high. I had read about the haunting in Room 9 and how it made people dizzy and sick to their stomachs. I had perused the dozens of photos of the paintings that Ms. Marta Becket (the owner) had adorned the interiors of the Opera House and the Hotel with. Nothing could prepare a person for the stark contrast of the white, sunburned exterior and the rich, colorful oil paintings inside. The place is a work of art. Everywhere you turn, there is another painting by Ms. Becket, another fine detail that she poured her heart into creating. I could feel her loneliness in her art. Her desire for more – to be more worldly, to be in contact with more people, to have more eyes sharing her art. If we're lucky, someday someone will snatch this place up and turn it into a museum – preserving its beauty and all of the art inside. For now, the buildings slowly melt in the harsh, desert sun. Paint peeling and chipping off the walls. The desert sand blowing against it as if it might swallow it whole someday. I feel privileged to have seen it in person. I am excited to share it with you.

First, let's explore the interior of the hotel...

The paintings on the walls were all hand painted by Marta Becket – artist, actress, and hotelier. This is the dining room for the hotel.

Hopefully someday the buildings will be restored and preserved. There is so much beautiful artwork inside!

I love the faces over the windows.

Becket has an incredible ability for creating depth and perspective in her paintings. At first glance, these arch ways appear to go out into a beautiful courtyard. They transport the viewer to a different time and place.