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A debate over historic preservation — and what deserves to be saved

A few months ago, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Osterman Gas Station in Peach Springs on its list of America’s “ most endangered historic places.”

The concrete block building was built in the early days of the Great Depression from a Sears Roebuck catalog. It serviced vehicles on the legendary Route 66 for decades. Since then, it’s fallen into disrepair — crippled by windstorms, microbursts and time.

It’s currently owned by the Hualapai Tribe, which has a plan to revive it and is looking for funding to do so.

The list of endangered places has been around since the 1980s, but not everyone thinks every historic building should be preserved. In fact, Timothy Sandefur says while preserving the past is a worthy goal, it also represents a tradeoff, with costs and benefits that must be weighed as well.

Sandefur is the vice president of legal affairs with the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank, and his views on historic preservation follow that libertarian streak. He was also, oddly enough, raised by a family of historic preservationists.

On the other hand, Beatrice Moore believes that preserving what little history we have in the metro Phoenix area is everything. Moore is the director of Grand Avenue Arts and Preservation and owner of multiple historic buildings in the Grand Avenue area.

The Show spoke with both Sandefur and Moore on their opinions on whether or not we should invest more into historic preservation.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.