The nearly century-old Osterman Gas Station along Route 66 in Peach Springs, Arizona, on Tuesday made the annual list of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
The list spotlights significant sites of American history “that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.”
The National Trust for 36 years has compiled the list, with a total of 350 properties and only a handful that have been lost because of the publicity the list generates each year.
This is what it said about the Osterman Gas Station:
Built in 1929, the Osterman Gas Station has been more than a place to sell gas and service vehicles along the legendary Route 66 — it’s been a focal point of the Hualapai Tribal community for almost a century. Constructed by hand using a concrete block kit from the Sears-Roebuck catalog, the building sits at the center of Peach Springs, the site of many memories for Hualapai elders who used to work or hang out at the gas station in their youth.
However, once the interstate system was built, economic development began to bypass Route 66—and Peach Springs. The Hualapai Tribe bought the building after the gas station closed in an effort to preserve it. A master planning process for downtown Peach Springs that included community outreach to identify potential desired uses for the Osterman Gas Station was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. Since then, extreme weather continues to threaten the deteriorated building, including an intense microburst in 2021 that tore off the building’s roof and left it vulnerable to the elements, and a February 2023 windstorm that collapsed one of the concrete walls.
Today, the Hualapai Tribe‘s Planning Department is working on plans to revitalize the Osterman as well as reactivating the downtown Peach Springs master planning process. Community members have expressed interest in a variety of potential future uses for the Osterman Gas Station, including a museum, welcome center, auto repair, artist guild, gift or coffee shop, a gas station, or even an EV charging station.
As a strategy, it recommends joining the National Trust, the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership and dozens of statewide and local organizations in calling for a National Historic Trail designation for Route 66.
In a news release from Arizona State Parks, the governor weighed in on the announcement:
“Arizona’s rich cultural heritage is a precious legacy we must steward. The Osterman Gas Station and its role in Peach Springs, contributing to the town’s mid-century prosperity is an important piece of Americana,” said Gov. Katie Hobbs. “With recognition of its significance and support, it can once again serve as a meaningful piece of the Peach Springs revitalization plans of the Hualapai Tribe.” […]
“The Osterman Gas Station is meaningful to the Hualapai people due to the significance of this being the last gas station out five that used to be here,” said Sherry J. Parker, chairperson of the Hualapai Tribe. “It provides history of our tourism days when traffic came through with buses stopping daily. It is a reminder of days gone by and stands as a representation of the significance of our contribution to Route 66.” […]
Arizona’s State Historic Preservation Officer, Kathryn Leonard, said, “It is our hope that being named to the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list will be as impactful for the Osterman Gas Station as it has been for other historic places.” Leonard continued, “The Osterman Gas Station holds an important place in the story of Route 66 and within the Hualapai tribal community, and support is needed to preserve this historic and cultural resource in Arizona.”
(Image of the Osterman Gas Station in Peach Springs, Arizona, courtesy of the Hualapai Tribe)