VANCOUVER(NEWS1130)- It dates from the time when the train was just arriving and the city was growing, 1888.

Concern is growing over the fate of Vancouver’s second oldest home after a permit application for its demolition was made to the city.

The small, wood-frame home is hidden behind a stand of trees on 502 Alexander Street in North Strathcona.

There’s litter out front and from the back, it looks to be in rough shape, stripped of its exterior.

But local historian John Atkin disputes claims the heritage home has become unstable.

“There’s no structural concerns here and anyone who says a wooden house is structurally unsafe and has to be torn down – I can guarantee you any wooden house can be saved,” he says.

He says the Henderson home, as it’s known, is an example of a “balloon-frame home,” with wall studs going from the roof line to the base in one continuous piece of wood.

“You would then tie that together with your roof rafters and roof structure. But you had an incredibly solid, flexible structure that would survive almost anything,” Atkin adds.

He says the city has not been open to offers of moving the house one street over to a development behind another 1888 heritage property on Cordova Street.

“That person has had fairly good experience at working with building renovations, things like that, very confident. But he just pretty well gave up because he got the runaround at city hall,” he says.

He says another potential saviour also faced frustration and roadblocks in dealing with the city.

City hall has previously said part of the problem in saving the home, is that it’s located outside the heritage districts of Gastown and Chinatown, so there are limited financial tools available.   

The house is owned by Atira Women’s Resource Society and the property will become part of its proposed Imouto Project turning repurposed shipping containers into housing for young women.

In a statement, Heritage Vancouver says it feels strongly that this significant early structure can be retained, as originally planned, without any difficulties to Atira Housing or its worthwhile project, or else relocated to another site.

The home was built by an early settler, John Baptist Henderson, who was born in Ireland in 1849.

Heritage Vancouver calls him, “a true pioneer adventurer who changed jobs and homesteads numerous times during his career.”

John Atkin still holds out hope the Henderson House can be saved.

“We’ve saved a home within three weeks of being condemned by the city. It can be moved and restored quite nicely.”