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Amargosa Opera House and Hotel is a historic building and cultural center located in Death Valley Junction, in eastern Inyo County, California near Death Valley National Park. Resident artist Marta Becket staged dance and mime shows there from the late 1960s until her final show in February 2012. The Death Valley Junction Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places and is owned by the nonprofit established by Becket for the preservation of the property.
The theater was part of a company town designed by architect Alexander Hamilton McCulloch and constructed in 1923–25 by the Pacific Coast Borax Company. The U-shaped complex of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture style adobe buildings included company offices, employees' headquarters, a dormitory and a 23-room hotel with a dining room, lobby and store. At the northeast end of the complex was a recreation hall used as a community center for dances, church services, movies, funerals and town meetings.
Marta Becket rented the recreation hall in 1967, then known as Corkhill Hall, began repairs, created the sets, painted murals on the adobe walls. She renamed it the Amargosa, the original name of the former mining town. In 1970, journalists from National Geographic discovered Becket doing a performance at the Amargosa Opera House without an audience. Their profile and another in Life led to an international interest in Becket and her theater. She began performing to visitors from around the world, including such notables as Ray Bradbury and Red Skelton.
In 1974, Becket completed her murals and established the nonprofit Amargosa Opera House, Inc. to continue preservation of the property. Through the Trust for Public Land, the nonprofit bought the town of Death Valley Junction, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on December 10, 1981. In 1983, the Opera House bought 120 theater seats from the Boulder City Theater in Boulder City, Nevada to replace the worn garden chairs and the official National Register of Historic Places marker for Death Valley Junction was placed.
The Amargosa Cafe and the Amargosa Hotel are open year round for visitors from all over the world. Beyond these maintained areas, the town of Death Valley Junction is almost a ghost town. There are no gas stations and only one restaurant. The single restaurant, the Amargosa Cafe, is part of the Opera House and Hotel.
The Amargosa Opera House and Hotel is located on California State Route 127 in Death Valley Junction at the junction of National Scenic Byway, California State Route 190, California State Route 127, Furnace Creek Inn area and Death Valley National Park, 27 miles (43 km) northwest. South is the town of Shoshone, California, and the Tecopa Hot Springs. The Nevada state line is five miles to the northeast.
Todd Robinson's documentary, Amargosa (2000) about Marta Becket and Amargosa won a 2003 Emmy Award for cinematographer Curt Apduhan and was a finalist for an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature, in addition to numerous festival awards and nominations.
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