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A Gateway

The Agate House in Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona paired with Vivienne Westwood Red Label's Knit Stripe Top.

The Agate House in Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona paired with Vivienne Westwood Red Label’s Knit Stripe Top.

A Spanish explorer, standing on the edge of the vast badlands of northeastern Arizona, saw a landscape painted with the colors of the sunset (hence its enduring name The Painted Desert). But even a surrealist wouldn’t imagine this trippy expanse– striped and bumped and sprinkled with petrified logs some 200 million years old.

Of the stories subsumed in the stratified layers, some surface: like the Agate House, built by ancestral Puebloan people sometime between 1050 and 1300. The scarcity of artifacts suggests a brief occupancy belying an original plan: the size and scale of the ambitious construction – eight rooms made of medium- to large-petrified logs transported to the top of a knoll – means the Agate House was most likely conceived as a single-family, year-round dwelling amid a neighborhood of such structures (long disappeared). So why abandoned so quickly?

The silhouette of the Agate House can be seen long before you arrive by way of a paved trail cutting through the Petrified Forest National Park. Like a lighthouse or beacon, beckoning, warning. Eerie in its abandoned beauty, the house is a jewel of memory amid geologic chaos now calm, painted.

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