BATTLE FOR HISTORY: Groups aim to save rare 19th Century home in Phoenix

- A group is fighting to keep a rare 19th Century home in Phoenix from being demolished.

Back in March, the City of Phoenix received a notice that the owner of that home wanted to demolish the structure, but because it was to be transformed into a commercial building, the city put a 30-day hold on the request.

The city has discovered the home was eligible for historic designation, and after looking into it, they gave the owner the go ahead to tear it down. Preservation activists have now filed an appeal, in hopes of saving this piece of history.

"With our current development boom in Phoenix, it looks like our history is actually evaporating right before our eyes," said Opal Wagner, Vice President of Phoenix Historic Neighborhood Coalition. "A building like this is irreplaceable, and once it's gone, you can't get it back."

Preserve Phoenix and other historic preservation groups are looking to keep this rare 19th century house from being demolished. The home was built in 1895 by Clinton Campbell, who was a very prominent builder in Phoenix during the turn of the century. Campbell also lived in the home for some time after it was built.

The house later became apartments, and then a commercial building. It is now abandoned.

In May, the city agreed to allow the property owner to tear it down, after that owner claimed an economic hardship. After looking into the matter ,the city decided the owner was correct.

"The owner submitted documentation stating that it's not usable in its current state, that it's in very poor condition," said Kevin Weight with City of Phoenix Planning and Development. "Structurally, it's very deficient and it would need about $400,000 worth of work. "The hardship test also makes us look at whether the hardship was self imposed. Did the owner do anything to create the hardship themselves, and we determined that they did not."

"It's in disheveled condition. Everybody knows that. But it is one of the now 50 houses from the 19th Century that survived," said Preservation Consultant Roger Brevoort.

Preserve Phoenix has now filed an appeal, hoping to overturn the go-ahead for demolition.

"I think everyone who's interested in historic preservation, I think your heart breaks each time you see one of these buildings torn down," said Wagner. "Our historic building stock in Phoenix is dwindling very low."

The Historic Preservation Commission hearing is set for June 19th, at 4:30 p.m., and the commission will have to determine if the hardship the owner claims is accurate.

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