A heated debate is set for later this month over the fate of one of Vancouver's oldest homes, now facing demolition.

The Legg Residence, in the 1200 block of Harwood Street, was built during the Klondike Gold Rush and is one of the West End's few remaining mansions.

But it appears it will have to give way to the continuing demand for new highrise development.

The developer and architect originally wanted to save the house, move it over and then build the tower.

That’s the plan preferred by the non-profit society Heritage Vancouver.

But complicating that vision is a 37-metre tulip tree on the property.

The tree is the subject of much debate in the neighbourhood, and many would prefer that the massive, flowering arbour be given priority for preserving.

"I would like the tree," said local resident Anna Maria Bucovaz. "The house, it has to come down. Let it go … it’s no big deal."

Vancouver city council opted to save the tree, but the house may no longer be part of the plan, said Bing Thom, the architect behind the project.


A massive tulip tree might be preserved at the mansion's expense. (CBC)

"Everybody was emotionally attached to want to save everything and have everything," said Thom. "In the end, you can’t have everything. So we just said, ‘All right, then at least we’ll try to save the tree.’"

The house sits on land worth $5 million, money that's been tied up for more than four years for the project's development.

The upcoming public consultation at Gordon Neighbourhood House will be held the evening of Oct. 24.

With files from the CBC's Kirk Williams and Priya Ramu