SAN JOSE -- While the signature Victorian cupola and upper story of one of the city's oldest buildings are blackened wrecks after a three-alarm Thursday night fire, the ground floor -- which once housed a beloved bicycle shop and museum -- still stands.

But despite the many fans of Faber's Cyclery and the structure's historical designation, whether it will remain up for long or be restored is questionable at best.

The two-story building at 702 S. First St. was home to the cyclery for more than 90 years. The shop closed shortly before the fire that burned through the roof and ravaged the second floor, leaving it in ruins.

San Jose lists the 1884-vintage Victorian on the Historic Resources Inventory as a "contributing site or structure" that lies on the edge of the Martha Gardens Conservation Area.

City staff and historical preservationists said that such a designation may have created additional steps for developers who wanted to modify or raze the building, but it carries little weight now.

"That status comes into play before something like this happens," said Brian Grayson of the Preservation Action Council of San Jose. "Chances are that given the condition of the building, regardless of its status it probably is not going to be able to be saved."

San Jose spokesman David Vossbrink called it "a loss that we all feel."

"We'd all rather not see that loss," said Vossbrink. "But it doesn't require the kind of replacement you would think a historic designation might mean." The lot and building, which was built in 1884, is currently on the market for $395,000, according to a real estate listing with Colliers International.

"We had interested people looking to renovate it," said Mark Sanchez of Colliers.

Sanchez said that would have taken considerable work, and the historical designation would have meant an additional process with the city, but "people that are making offers know what they're getting into."

As for the next steps, "I don't know what we're doing," Sanchez said. "Everybody is in a little bit of shock." He was aware of an online campaign to save the building, but had no comment about it.

San Jose fire Capt. Cleo Doss said Friday evening that investigators continue to look for a source of the blaze, and crews are "sifting through all the debris" on the second floor. He said there was no word of any victims -- early information from a source since deemed "not very reliable" held that people were living in the vacant building. But he added that investigators haven't yet ruled out the possibility entirely.

The fire started around 9:30 p.m. at the building just south of downtown. It took an hour for firefighters to knock down the flames, and they couldn't immediately search the upper floor because the building appeared to be in danger of collapse.

The wooden structure had at one time been a saloon, as well as a blacksmith shop and soda fountain. The bike store moved in during the early 1920s and was run by members of the Faber family until is was sold to Alex LaRiviere in the 1970s. Seena Hawley, who was once married to the shop owner, said in an email that LaRiviere moved out about two weeks ago and has been accounted for.

Friday morning several people stopped by the former bike shop to see the damage first hand and reminisce about the building.

Annie Gonzalez, 58, of San Jose, said when she was a girl she went to Faber's with her father, and remembers people sitting on couches and fixing bikes. When she was a mom, she took her son there to buy his first bike.

"It hurts, it really does," Gonzalez said. "Because it's childhood memories. I'm saddened to see this."

Grayson of the preservation group said it's a shame to see another historic building lost to fire. As examples he cited the fires at the Houghton Donner House, Historic IBM Building 25 and a Japantown boardinghouse, which all burned within a year of one another in 2007 and 2008.

"Anytime you have a structure of that age burn down, it will affect people," he said. "Kids who went in with dads to get their first bike, even someone who never went inside and just drove by and saw it as an interesting old building, and took some comfort in that. There's a variety of reasons people get connected."

The campaign to save the building can be found at http://fundly.com/save-faber-s-cyclery.

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.